Protected Thai turtles in Sattahip

Sattahip bay

Sattahip bay: Flickr.com

Despite being hunted as food and medicine in some countries, turtles, the ancient symbols of longevity which outlived the dinosaurs, survive well in Sattahip under the care of the Royal Thai Navy.

The Royal Thai Navy has a role in the protection of turtles in response to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s concern on the preservation of Thai turtles. A center has been established with an aim to nurture the sea turtles and return as much as possible to the sea.

The Sea Turtle Conservation Center was set up on the coast of Sattahip bay in 1992 with the help of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to promote the place as a natural tourist attraction. The area is under the responsibility of the Air and Coastal Defense Command of the Royal Thai Navy.

Special care is given to around 15,000 green and hawksbill baby turtles hatched and housed at the Navy’s conservation center each year. With full cooperation from the government, private sector, schools and the general public, the center has nurtured and released over 20.000 turtles back to the sea each year.

The hatching process starts when the staff delivered turtle eggs from nearby islands and let them incubate under the sand for about 60 days. They put the new born turtles to the hatchery pond circulated with clean sea water and let it grow for six months. Once the baby turtles’ shells are strong enough to protect themselves from various predators, the young turtles are released to the sea.

The turtles always move away from the crowd to the peaceful nature setting. The maturity of carapace animals is reached at between 20-30 years and their lives can last 130 years. The Leatherback Turtle found along Andaman coast is claimed to be the biggest turtle with a size of a Volkswagen Beatle.

Currently only 200 turtles are found in the Gulf of Thailand. 90% of the turtles being released by the center are settled in Philippine Sea, while 10% are found in Vietnam Sea. The microchips which are implanted in the turtle skin indicate that the Thai turtles only take 22 days to swim to Philippines.

Strangely, the full grown turtles only lay eggs in their original birthplace. After 20 years away, the turtles eventually swim back to Thailand to lay eggs and continue to come back every three years until the age of 80.

Tourists and visitors can be a part of the turtles release everyday without charge, though advance booking is strictly recommended. The release will be done only during the day as turtles swim toward the sun’s reflection on the sea horizon. Interested visitors can contact 0-2466-1189 ext 79035 or 79036 as well as call directly to 0-8631-76829 or log in for more information at navy.mi.th/turtle.

At the Royal Thai Navy’s Sea turtle Conservation Center, the public can learn about endangered turtle species of Thailand while being a part of the conservation process. The center takes pride as being an important engine in instilling conservation value in the public. (NNT)

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