Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Madu Ganga River

Spent a day out along the coast, particularly looking at the sea turtle rescue organizations.
Arun holding a rather agitated turtle.

Tiny little turtle - didn't even cover
my palm - about 1 week old

There are quite a few of them, all working to rescue, rehabilitate, and increase the numbers of the sea turtles.  I went to one where a young boy, Arum, showed me around...from harvesting the eggs to keeping them in the sand (they're very liquids inside and the shells are very soft and pliable at only a couple of days). They watch the turtles come to shore and when they finish laying, they carefully dig up a nest to bring to a protected area. As the turtles hatch they are kept in large enclosures and then released when they're large enough to hopefully survive the trials of the ocean.  
This turtle had a healing crack in
his shell

They also rescue turtles that have been injured or caught in nets. Once the injury is healed, they are released.  They have a fe turtles that they've kept, mostly because they couldn't be returned and survive but those turtles are the ones they use to talk to the school kids about the plight of the sea turtles.  Apparently they are fished for and the eggs harvested for people to eat, threatening the population.

Took a trip one day down to the Madu Ganga river, towards Galle. It is a coastal ecosystem of mangroves and islands and is thought to be one of the few remaining 'pristine' forests in Sri Lanka. It is against the law to cut the forests...and the people who live there are quite proud of what they have.

I went early in the morning and while. Must admit to wondering why I was getting up so early, it was a great call by the owner of the hotel.  I was on the river for two hours with only one other boat exploring the region. By the end of our time, heading back for the dock, the river was swamped with tourists in huge boats filled with people. I loved having it so quiet and peaceful.

My driver had the eyes of an eagle. I absolutely did not see the vast majority if the animals before he pointed them out. While I know he knows what he's looking for, I suspect a few of the monitor lizards have their favorite haunts so he knows where to look, however, he did a great job finding if my pictures came out...

Hindu Shrine
Found a kingfisher perched on a pole...and he stayed there while the driver jockeyed the boat around to help me get a picture...we shall see how they came out.

They had some interesting building, little stores right on the water, a Hindu shrine on its own tiny island, a 1000 year old Buddhist temple with a 100 year old book made out of palm leaves.  The writing is in an old language and really tiny! One of the islands is connected to the mainland with a very long bridge! 
One of the higher bridges
Local store

Now...this place is in trouble if the water level rises. The walking and train bridges that cross the river are not very high. In fact, anything taller than a basic motor. Oat would not find under it. You are literally scrunched down in the boat and can feel the bridge woosh above your head as the boat traveled under it. 

Hand peeling the cinnamon
We also got to see a family that has a cinnamon plantation...though that seems like a grandiose word for it. He demonstrated how they harvest the cinnamon, scraping the bark off the long stalk and then hand peeling the cinnamon off of it, and the drying the pieces up in the rafters where they finally take on the look of cinnamon sticks we would recognize. It seems strange;  fresh cut cinnamon does not have the deep smell that the dried cinnamon takes on.  

I didn't go back for the nighttime prawn fishing but I did get to see the various trap systems they have in place. The lanterns they light attract the shellfish (apparently they don't see too good) and they become trapped, allowing the fishermen to pull them up. Don't really think watching that would have appealed to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment