I traveled to the Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation project in the southwestern beach town Ambalangoda. And it couldn’t have started better – two days old baby turtles to be released in the ocean. They were so tiny and hyper active – put all together in one tank, and moving and dancing around – it looked like a turtles soup. Super cuties!
The day-to-day activities are related to protection and rehabilitation of sea turtles, because they are protected reptiles. Unfortunately, mostly due to human action, there are disabled turtles to take care of as well. Their stories are different – some have lost one or both flippers due to fisherman’s net, some are blind, some have fish hooks in their throat, some have eaten too much plastic.
A local coordinator associated with turtles project loves animals and feels very responsible for turtles. Also, it was clear that he truly cared that all volunteers get involved and enjoy their time there. He worked with us and the turtles all the time, guiding us on tasks such as food preparation (cleaning and cutting sardines) and supervising the feeding process. Sometimes, working with the turtles even turned wet!
Cleaning turtles and their tanks was another important task. It was done with sand and dried coconut shell brush. Of course, no chemicals. Furthermore, you may not apply any lotion or whatsoever on your body parts which might get in contact with a turtle or tank water. A local beach cleaning was part of the project, during which we gathered several bags of sea “treasure,” meaning plastic bottles, toothbrushes, slippers, Legos etc. Here I came to realize how serious this subject is and remembered all those internet articles about plastic in our seas. Maybe next time I will join a project raising awareness of plastic pollution.
If you are considering volunteering, choose a project and really do it. Even if a financial part might not be the easiest one to sign up for it, do it. It is one awesome experience. Three weeks later after coming back home, my heart is till there, in Sri Lanka.