To the sea

Do you ever start to write about something but hold back because you’re not sure of the reaction? That’s pretty much how I feel about this post. I know that there is a certain amount of controversy about this subject (see this post on The Planet D) – I’ll leave you to make up your own minds.

What are the moments that make you stop and think when you travel? For me, it’s the places that offer something I would never be able to experience at home that are the real ‘wow’ moments.

There were a couple on this trip; the caves in Dambulla for one. But the one that really sticks with me is the turtle project in Induruwa, just outside Bentota on the west coast.

There are a number of turtle conservation projects along this stretch of coast which aim to increase the survival rates of the five types of turtle found in these waters. Traditionally turtle eggs were collected for food, although this is now illegal. The turtle projects pay more than the markets in the hope of improving the numbers of eggs that successfully hatch. It’s debatable how successful they are. We visited at dusk for the chance to release baby turtles into the sea.

As the sun sank below the horizon we watched a little anxiously as a sea eagle circled overhead. Ten, fifteen minutes passed until it eventually disappeared. The guys from the turtle project reappeared with a blue plastic bucket, full of twenty or so tiny turtles, just a couple of days old. Sticking my hand into a bucket of wriggling turtles, all eager to reach the sea, was one of the more surreal moments of my life. One of those moments when you realise how far from home you are. I never thought, earlier this year, that I’d be releasing turtles into the Indian Ocean against a backdrop of a picture-perfect sunset. Sometimes, life can be wonderful.

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