Fishermen and visitors in search of the perfect beach holiday aren’t the only creatures on the beaches of the southwest. Marine turtles come ashore at night to laboriously dig a hole and lay their eggs, covering them up before heading back to sea, leaving the eggs to hatch some 50-60 days later. To avoid the eggs being taken by predators, several private turtle hatcheries have been set up along the coast, perhaps the best known being at Kosgoda, a little to the south of Bentota.

Kosgoda is famous for its turtle hatchery- operated by the Wild Life Protection Society of Sri Lanka. It was established in 1981 to protect Sri Lanka’s turtles from extinction. The hatchery pays fishermen for eggs that they collect at night along the sandy beach. Visitors can see huge tanks filled with new born turtle hatchlings. After being fed, the baby turtles are taken to the sea and released when they are 2-4 days old, usually during the safer hours of darkness. Although October to April is the main laying season, some eggs can be found at Kosgoda throughout the year.

The beaches of Sri Lanka are the nesting grounds for five species of marine turtles. They are the Green Turtle, the Leatherback, the Hawksbill, the Loggerhead and the Olive Ridley. All 5 species have been recorded to nest along specific areas of Sri Lanka’s coast. Studies have indicated that beaches can be categorized in accordance with visitation by different species of turtles. For example Leatherbacks nest at Walawe Modera and Godawaya. Hawksbill nests at Bentota while Green Turtle nests at Rekawa and Kosgoda. Loggerheads nest at Welipatanwala. Olive Ridleys are the only species of turtle that nest everywhere.

There are 18 hatcheries found along the southern coastal line; of them, nine hatcheries are found in the district of Galle and one is found in the district of Hambantota (Darwin’s Cabana). According to statistics from 1996 to 1999, nearly a hundred thousand sea turtles were hatched and released to the sea from these hatcheries. A growing interest is manifest in the field of turtles everywhere in the world. While an infinitesimal minority of carnivores are bent on destroying this disappearing breed of marine turtles for their flesh and shell, a preponderant majority of people in many countries are keen to protect them and provide them sanctuaries. Marine turtles were roaming the oceans for about 190 million years. Among the many different varieties of this species only eight of these ancient reptiles are found living today. The following five different species visit Sri Lanka beaches to nest: Induruwa: Green Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle and Leatherback Turtle; Kosgoda: Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and the three species found in Induruwa; Akurala: Green Turtle; Mavela: Green Turtle and Leatherback Turtle; Kahandamodara: Unknown species of turtles visit the area. Usangoda: Leatherback Turtle. Ambalantota: Green Turtle and Leatherback Turtle; Bundala: Green Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle and Hawksbill Turtle; Yala: Green Turtle, Leatherback Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle. Kandakuliya: In this area, thousands of Olive Ridley Turtles are found every year. So far no nesting has been found.