If you love sea turtles and want to experience the magic of releasing hatchlings to sea, read this before visiting a sea turtle hatchery!
My decision to visit Lankayan Island Resort was solely for sea turtle interaction. It’s located in the “Sea Turtle Corridor” and it’s almost guaranteed that you can both swim with the adults in their natural environment and release hatchlings to sea. I was sold after reading the reviews about the resort, but my research stopped there. When hearing the word “conservation”, my natural response was to just trust that’s what the hatchery really was.
This isn’t one of those tourism industry horror stories where I then witnessed the abuse and exploitation of animals. LUCKILY, it was the exact opposite. I was fortunate because Lankayan’s hatchery practices were 100% humane, with the animals’ best interest at the forefront of all their actions. It wasn’t until the conservationists explained corruption within the majority of sea turtle “conservations” (especially in Asia) that I realized I made the eco-conscious choice.
If curious, this is what a humane hatchling release looks like!
Before visiting a sea turtle hatchery, read the following to know which practices are humane and which places to avoid!
- The baby hatchlings should never be touched. You may have seen those cute photos on Instagram of people holding baby sea turtles, but this is a huge no-no at humane hatcheries! The conservationists explained that no one should get in the way of their natural instincts to flee to sea. This throws off their internal compass and introduces harmful germs/bacteria to the fragile newborns.
- Once hatched, the turtles should be released to sea as soon as possible! Some hatcheries wait 2-3 days so tourists can interact with them and take photos. Similar to the last point, this weakens their animal instincts to return to sea. In the YouTube of my experience, you can see them FLEE as soon as they’re released. In the videos of hatchlings released a few days after hatching, you see them move very slow without clear direction of where to go.
- Conservationists shouldn’t allow flash photography because it disorients the hatchlings and throws off their direction,
- Sea turtles are highly endangered, which is why conservations originated in the first place. Sadly, we learned that the majority of hatcheries in Asia aren’t real conservations. Instead, they support and encourage the inhumane practices mentioned above, solely for the sake of the tourist experience 🙁
- Hatchlings only have a 1 in 1,000 chance of surviving to adulthood. That being said, it’s clear why humane conservations are so vital and why we as tourists need to do our research beforehand. By supporting fake conservations, we’re only endangering these animals even more.
I rarely use my blog to preach about different subjects…
…But this is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart! Most of my followers on Instagram already know of my obsession with sea turtles and heard me ramble about them before ?. But after seeing an increasing amount of Instagram accounts supporting fake conservations, I thought a blog post was necessary! The majority of comments on Instagram posts holding baby turtles are positive ones, unaware of the impacts these actions can have. I was in the same exact boat before this experience on Lankayan Island, so I wanted to spread the important lessons I learned! I’m hoping my voice makes even the slightest difference when it comes to creating a safer future for sea turtles ?
Spread the word! Tell other travelers to read this before visiting a sea turtle hatchery ??