The Racha, Racha Yai, August 30th 2017, Early morning July 14th 2017, beach-cleaning staff of The Racha discovered turtle tracks on Batok Bay, fronting the resort.
As turtles are protected in Thailand, The Racha Management notified The Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC). The perimeter was immediately condoned off by resort security to ensure the area remained undisturbed.
Later that day, PMBC officials confirmed the nesting site of 94 eggs and identified the turtle to be Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea). As Batok Bay receives a fair share of visitors from mainland Phuket during the day, and to protect the eggs from animal predators, it was decided that the newly laid eggs be removed and transported to the expert care of The Racha staff.
Devan Bhaskaran, General Manager of The Racha resort explains why. “11 years ago, The Racha had an extensive Sea Turtle Hatching Program located at The Racha Dive Center. The Dive Center staff, over 10 months successfully hatched and subsequently released 55 Olive Ridley turtles into the nourishing waters of Batok Bay. These turtles had to be a minimum size of 25cm to ensure their survivability in the ocean.
It’s been 11 years and we are all so honored and delighted that one of our hatchlings has returned to us to give birth on the island where she was born. As before, we will ensure every egg gets their best start in life. The next generation of Olive Ridley turtles couldn’t be in better hands.”
The eggs meanwhile are watched over 24/7 by resort security and staff from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR). The first eggs are expected to hatch anytime between 48-57 days, around 1st – 8th September. After which, they will remain under the care of The Racha for approximately 10 months or until they are deemed strong enough to be released into the sea to mature. During this special period, Racha guests may observe and learn about the turtle conservation process at The Water Sports Center grounds, where the turtle hatchery is located.
About Olive Ridley Turtles
Olive Ridley’s are listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and are protected by Thai Law. They inhabit the coastline and waters of the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.
Typically, nesting season is throughout the year, peaking from May to August in secluded beaches.
A pregnant female comes ashore to the beach where she was born before dusk to nest and digs a pit 18 inches deep for her eggs. Laying time is about an hour, with a clutch of between 74–126 eggs. Thereafter, she will carefully conceal the nest with sand and depart back into the ocean by dawn. The incubation period is usually between 48 and 51 days under natural conditions, but may extend to 70 days in poor weather conditions. Eggs incubated at temperatures of 31 to 32°C will produce only females.
Eggs incubated at 28°C or less will produce solely males. A mixed sex clutch is produced with incubation temperatures of 29 to 30°C.
In the wild, turtle hatchlings have a very low natural survival rate: only 1 in 1,000 turtles will make it to adulthood. Adult Olive Ridley turtles weigh around 50kgs and have a lifespan of up to 50 years.