Why are dead turtles piling up on Colombo beaches?



Many turtle carcasses have been washed ashore along the coastline in Colombo for about two days, environmentalists said.

On the 22nd, nearly 10 turtle bodies were found from the coast spanning from Wellawatte to the Galle Face Green while a large number of turtle bodies were seen piled up on the beaches of Pamunugama, Uswetakeiyawa and Mt.Lavinia yesterday (23).

The eyes of some of these turtle corpses were swollen, some were bleeding, while some dead fish were also seen piled up on the beach.

The Navy has informed the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) in this regard. They have together launched an investigation along with the Police.

Accordingly, the Wildlife Conservation Department filed a motion in the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court and presented four turtle carcasses piled up on the shore of the Galle Face Green in the court. 

Subsequently, Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage ordered the Bellanwila Veterinary Officer to carry out post-mortem examinations of these turtles and to handover a report regarding the cause of death to the court.

Why do turtles’ shells burst and die?

Although the exact reason for the unusual death of the turtles has not yet been revealed, Environmentalist Nayanaka Ranwella said that an explosion caused by human activity in the deep sea may be the reason for the unusual death of the turtles.

He also suspects that a destructive fishing method like ‘Laila’ or any leakage from the X-Press Pearl vessel could also be the reason for this.

Meanwhile, Colombo Range Forest Officer Saman Liyangama said that there are several ways in which turtles’ shells can burst.

Mr. Liyangama pointed out that a dynamite-like explosion can cause damages to the lungs due to a rapid pressure condition.

He said that after a few days of death, the shells can still burst.


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