Welcome to Island Hopping in the Andaman Sea of Thailand
Sea Turtles of the Andaman Sea
Turtles can be found in all tropical and many temperate regions of the world. Most of them are land based; only a few species are amphibian animals. Out of those some live in the water for only part of their life while others are so much adapted to the wet element that they spend all their life in the water. While the first ones are mostly living in freshwater the latter ones are exclusively found in seawater.
Altogether 5 species
with a few subspecies have survived through the million years from their
first recorded appearance on earth in the mesozoic era. All prefer the
tropical oceans, but in some cases they are drifted in the cooler regions
outside their usual habitat, like the Leatherback Turtle that was caught
alive in the Baltic Sea in 1965 weighing 450 kilogrammes.
This is one of the burdensome works in the life of a female turtle, as their massive body and their legs are not built for walking on the land and in the dry and hot air. When darkness falls and the air cools down she will come out of the water dragging the heavy body merely by using the front legs across the sand to a suitable place. Here she begins to dig a pear-shaped hole with her rear legs in which she drops the eggs. After she filled the hole with sand she returns to the water. This procedure often takes the whole night. Is a turtle being disturbed by noise, light or other animals (including man) she might return to the water without laying their eggs and will try a nearby place during the next nights. It is believed that only 1 in a 1000 baby turtle will reach maturity and come back to lay their eggs!
One of the main sea turtle nesting sites on the Andaman coast of Thailand, are the islands off Takuapa. Since 1996 researchers and volunteers from Naucrates, an Italian NGO, in collaboration with the Phuket Marine Biological Center stay in a camp base at Golden Buddha Beach Resort on Koh Phra Thong During the nesting season from December to April. They patrol the 15 kilometres long beach nightly to protect the sea turtles from disturbances. Do they find a clutch, the eggs are carefully dug out and kept in the camp to be released later when the turtles hatch. The scientists even have to buy eggs from the locals, who collect if for eating.
Three nesting species
were identified: olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), leatherback turtle
(Dermochelys coriacea) and green turtle (Chelonia mydas). The number
of nests laid each season range from 7 to 13 showing a drastic decline
of about 83%, using the trend reported from 1979 to 1990.