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>  Indian Ocean/ Middle East  >  Sri Lanka  >  The Great Turtle Project

One of the most important activities of the project is its hatchery. Within the sanctuary of the project, collected and rescued eggs can hatch safely away from predators before being released into the sea at night-time. In addition, a certain number from each hatching are kept back for a short period for 'head starting' before release. The hatchery program is designed to maximise the number of hatchlings reaching the sea and surviving through the critical stages of their early life. Only a few hatchlings from each batch will ever make it to adulthood. Therefore every nest-ground, every egg, every hatchling and every turtle is crucial to the survival of the species.The project also helps maintain the local beaches, ensuring they are ideal turtle laying havens and protecting vital nesting-grounds.

When you consider how long the project has been going, you can begin to understand the impact the project has! The work relies upon the work of dedicated volunteers and you too can play an important role in ensuring the survival of these beautiful creatures.


Project Summary


Duration: 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks. 

Start Dates: Volunteers can join throughout the year, Sundays are the preferable start date.

Location: Sri Lanka, Asia



Day 1 (Sunday): Arrive into Colombo airport. Welcome to Sri Lanka! Today you will be met at the airport and transferred to the project site. You will have the rest of the day to rest and recover from your journey, maybe even explore a little bit!

Day 2 (Monday): Orientation and transfer to your new home
Today orientation will take place at 8:30am in the hotel where you're staying in Colombo. All new arrivals will have their orientation together, and this will cover important information such as what it's going to be like at your project, dos and don'ts, fun things to do in Sri Lanka, a language lesson and how to stay safe on your trip.


Today, all new arrivals will have their orientation together, and this will cover important information such as what it’s going to be like at your project, do’s and don’ts, fun things to do in Sri Lanka, a Language lesson and how to stay safe on your trip.

Day 3 (Tuesday): Introductions at your project
Today you'll be up bright and early to be introduced to your project and meet the staff who will be your day to day contacts. This will also be your first chance to meet the resident turtles!
You'll be shown around the project, agree on your work schedule and spend the rest of the day learning the ropes and getting stuck into some volunteering.

Day 4 (Wednesday) to Day 6 (Friday): Volunteering time!

Now you know your way around you can really get to work! You’ll be involved in a variety of tasks at both the turtle and community projects.

Day 7 (Saturday) and Day 8 (Sunday): A Free Weekend!
Your weekends are free to spend as you chose so this is your chance to explore Sri Lanka and all it has to offer. You can use your free time to relax, write a journal or get to know Sri Lanka a little bit more.
The following weeks will follow a similar pattern of volunteering during the week and relaxing and exploring Sri Lanka during your free evenings and weekends. Time will fly by so make the most of every minute in this paradise location!


Your last day (Sunday)
Having said goodbye to all your new friends, taken your final photos and packed your bag full of souvenirs you'll travel back to the airport.



Volunteers are very much needed to help with the daily care and preservation of the turtles. You will be able to get involved with a variety of tasks including; caring for turtles that live at the centre, maintaining the project area and the beach, burying eggs brought by vendors, cleaning the hatcheries, feeding the turtles and releasing them back into the wild!

You will also be able to lend a hand with tours of the hatchery, helping to educate people about the importance of preserving the turtles and the work of the volunteers. English teachers are scarce in Kosgoda and your skills will be greatly valued by locals who are keen to learn! You will spend your afternoons interacting with the community teaching conversational English. There may also be the opportunity to work with local school children teaching English and a range of other subjects such as drawing, music, painting, singing and dancing.

You will have at least two days off a week depending on your workload, giving you ample opportunity to explore Sri Lanka's rich cultural heritage.


Sea turtles have few natural predators in adulthood although tiger sharks and killer whales have been known to prey on them. They are, however, extremely vulnerable when young and particularly as hatchlings when they can be attacked by mammals, birds, crabs and fish amongst others. Nests of eggs make an attractive food source to many scavengers. However, by far the most dangerous predators of turtles are humans.

Turtles and their eggs are valuable commodities on the black market. Many view turtle eggs as an aphrodisiac; as a symbol of fertility and they are exported to other Asian countries for this reason. Hundreds of thousands of eggs are stolen every year.

The shell of the turtle is used for ornamental purposes such as hair slides and combs and its rarity ensures high demand. The highly endangered Hawksbill has been hunted to the brink of extinction for its carapace, used for the illegal ‘tortoiseshell’ trade. In Sri Lanka, where poverty is widespread, sea turtle nests occurring on the South and Southwest coast are robbed of their eggs by poachers for sale on the black market.
Nesting green turtle females (the most common turtle in Sri Lanka) are slaughtered for their meat, a Pan-Asian delicacy. Thousands are killed a year. The high yield of good quality meat and the ease with which turtles can be caught has made them particularly desirable food items in coastal communities around the world. Turtle soup, common on menus across Asia, is considered by many to be a rare delicacy.

The fishing industry in the seas around the island of Sri Lanka is key to the economy. However, many turtles meet their end by becoming entangled accidentally in fisherman’s nets. This number is as high as 300,000 per annum worldwide. Human activity on beaches can also deter turtles from nesting and use of artificial lighting near beaches has been known to disorientate both nesting turtles and hatchlings.
The main aim of the project is to monitor local sea turtle activity and conserve the local nesting sites. We aim to make the public more aware of how endangered these beautiful creatures are and just how important it is to help protect them before it is too late.
The Great turtle project- Sri Lanka, has released over 94,000 hatchlings since 1988. We hope to keep this number rising.


When is turtle season?
October - April is the main laying season. Babies are generally released when they are 2-4 days old.

Where in Sri Lanka will I will be based?
You will be based in Kosgoda. Kosgoda located 40km south of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

Will the Project pick me up from the airport?
Project staff will pick up volunteers from the Colombo international airport. We have already included airport pickup and drop off in the price. 

How much spending money will I need?
We recommend that you take between £50 - £70 per week.

What type of clothing do you recommend I take with me?
Whilst volunteering you will need clothes that cover your shoulders, mid-rif and length should be to at least your knees.

Why type of food should I expect?
Breakfast and dinner are provided in the restaurant. This will generally be local Sri Lankan dishes such as rice and curry, bread, milk, fruit and vegetables.


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