MANILA, Philippines — Green turtles are among a few animals that take a long journey back to their natal place to lay eggs.
But what happens when their birth beach has been turned into something other than a nesting place?
In the Maldives, a female sea turtle’s homecoming wasn’t at all welcoming. The beach where it was born is now an airport.
Without a choice as its biological nature dictates it lays eggs on the same spot it emerged as a hatchling, the sea animal made the runway its nest on Maafaru island, local news website The Edition on Tuesday reported.
“Despite the unfortunate circumstances that befell the turtle mother, she is reportedly in good health and was released back into the ocean by locals,” wrote The Edition.
The incident has sparked fresh debates on the environmental and social costs of the tropical nation’s tourism-propelled growth.
“The question remains on how much of Maldives’ biodiversity must be sacrificed in order to propel our country forward industrially and economically,” the website said.
The airport, which has a 2.2 kilometer-long and 40 meter-wide runway, was inaugurated in August last year. The UAE-funded project was built on Maafaru, one of the inhabited islands of Noonu Atoll, which is a traditional nesting place of the marine turtles.
Once a green turtle hatches and heads into the ocean, it rarely returns to land. When they reach sexual maturity, they travel long distances to go back to their natal place to mate and lay eggs.
The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is on the list of endangered species of animals by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
There is no clear estimate of its population but the IUCN said its number could have dropped by more than 50% over the past decade.
Human encroachment, destruction of habitat, meat and egg trade, domestic and industrial pollution and commercial fishing are among the major threats to the species’ existence.