The Arun and Aman Turtle Conservation and Research Centre is a mouthful of a name to remember or pronounce, but it's one of the few reliable or somewhat ethical turtle hatcheries around. At least from what we could see.
They pay fishermen to collect eggs from the beaches, which they then re-bury within the hatchery's premises until the baby turtles hatch out approximately 50 days later.
There's a large pool and several other smaller tanks which house five different species of turtles.
This is going to sound a bit repetitive especially when I say "turtle" five times, but there are five different species which comes to SL and can be found here. They're the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle, the Hawksbill, Oliver Ridley, and the Leatherback Turtle.
The pool had a few large turtles including a massive 120+ year old one. We asked the staff what the purpose of holding adult turtles captive in there was, and they basically told us that the only ones they have in captivity were those who were ill or permanently injured. Several of the larger turtles were missing fins, which they'd apparently lost thanks to fishing boats and their apparatus.
Unlike our extremely disturbing and unpleasant experience at one of the hatcheries in Koggala, this place seems pretty decent. They know their animals, and the owner/ managers are concerned about minor staff man-handling them. We're sure this happens regardless — there were a couple of tourists who the staff humoured by pulling and poking turtles out of the tank to take pictures, but whenever the manager's son came by, he reminded them that they're not supposed to do that.
Also, the turtles were quite friendly and didn't shy away from people when they were returned back to the tank, so it's unlikely that they've been hurt or mistreated.
This runs on a trust fund, and as well as hatching and caring for newborn turtles, they also provide care for sick and injured older turtles. They don't have any opening or closing times apparently because they repeatedly told us that there'd always be someone or the other around so people can walk in at any given time. How accurate this is, we cannot say. They also sell a few trinkets — bracelets, necklaces and such — on site for about Rs. 300.
Geeth has a small boat which keeps you close to the…
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