Turtles at Sandspit beach

Karachiites have all heard of turtles at the beach at night, but very few have actually seen them. Keen on fixing that, a few friends and I went over to the beach to see some turtles for ourselves. Our guide was one of the conservationists who’ve been working to save the turtle eggs and it was simply an awesome experience. You don’t get to see nature up close in cities and, after my experience at the Karachi Zoo, it was the perfect tonic for city fatigue.

The turtles apparently come to hatch at Sandspit beach between September and mid-November and they’re the most docile and splendid creatures imaginable. You can walk right up to them and touch them, but that’s only encouraged after the turtles have laid their eggs else they go back to the sea. And sitting on them – apparently something people are tempted to do – is a definite no-no as our guide explained that the turtle’s lungs are near their soft undersides and sitting on them can cause their lungs to burst.

My favourite bit was that the green turtles may well be some of the oldest daughters – only female turtles swim ashore – of this city; apparently turtles always return to the beach on which they were themselves hatched to lay their eggs.

26 Comments so far

  1. fAr stAr (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

    i’d been to the turtle reservationary site near sandspit beach years ago…i don’t know if it still exist or not…but yes, it was an experiance. loved to saw those gaint creatures right infront of me. wwf have worked quite nicely to save the green turtles. but i think there still is a lack of awareness. there r many other endangered species in Pakistan and nobody knows about them. one of them is our national animal Ibex(maar-khor), the Snow Leopard and the Indus Dolphen and many others.
    this post will deffinatly help us learning a great deal about how to help them breed. and how to help the authorities who r working to save those species. they r part of our heritage amd we should take steps to save them.

  2. fAr stAr (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

    Cy, can u plz thell the when, where, and how of the trip for the ppl who also want to experiance the fascination

  3. Feet Maestro (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 3:22 pm

    Yeah, second that Cy. Do you need to make reservations in advance?

  4. Cy (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

    The site we went to – there are two others along Sandspit beach – was near hut no 108. you can drive up there any night and the men in attendance will show you around. the turtles lay their eggs between sept and mid-november and start turning up on the beach after 10 pm.

  5. Mona (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

    How massive are they that people get tempted to sit on them?

    Is it worth going to the beach in Dec, as Karachi does not get as cold until Jan?

  6. cyberina (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 3:30 pm

    yeah i also have taken that tonic:)… thats really great.. that was a life tiem experience…
    @FAR FAR .. anybody can go there .. ask about them to the local guides there.. they will show u, visit there late night after 10..u will really love it.. and ask them to show u hatched turtles.. which they keep in the room and after a week or so they leave them into the see.. they looks like kids small pencil erasers:)

  7. Farhan (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

    Finally CY something constructive

  8. fAr stAr (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

    @cyberina: i’m fAr stAr, not FAR FAR. anyway thanx for ur suggestion.
    just wanna ask one more thing…can we still find one or two turtle wandering around the seashore as its almost the end of november.

  9. Keep Walking! (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

    CY, pics????????????? pics add more value to such posts..

  10. Cy (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

    Sorry, no pics. Hopefully I will have some in a couple of days and can post them here.

  11. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

    @CY: Nice posts…we need more such informative posts at this forum…..and yes…pictures please.

  12. Moiz Kazmi (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

    went to the turtle beach kinda thingy years n years ago…was fun and indeed informative !!
    i did sit on a turtle..which the guy over thr claimed is dead…me n my sis sat on it n had pictures !! it was fun :D
    will find the pic n upload !

  13. Ahmed (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 7:22 pm

    as for turtle awareness has nobody heard/seen “Kachwa Bacha” by Ali Alam

  14. dun (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 9:12 pm

    Very cool! How much do the guides charge per person?

  15. Cy (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 10:38 pm

    Dun: There’s no fixed charge as such, but I think 100 per person is the accepted norm. Above that you’re welcomed to make donations – there is no recurring funding for the project and it survives on the largesse of private donors.

  16. striker (unregistered) on November 21st, 2006 @ 11:52 pm

    man you should upload pics that place

  17. Darthvader (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 1:33 am

    now this is a excellent post – good job CY, very informative stuff.

    only if some of the other brainless-authors would take heed and stop posting garbage that they do .


  18. cyberina (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 2:27 am

    u can visit till end of feb…

  19. Sajid (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 10:53 am

    You donot need a guide to go over there, just visit the beach at around midnight 1PM and you can witness these giant turtles.

    You can easily spot them either going in or out of the sea and laying eggs on the beach (if you find any do check their eyes as you can see the pain and tears in their eyes while laying eggs (a natural phenomenon), some potholes on the sand are the signs that a turtle has recently laid her eggs. As for travel guides there are none pratically over there, you may find some balochs (who are basically hut care takers) roaming here and there, apart from it roaring sea and chilly breeze.

  20. Cy (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 11:02 am

    Sajid: The ‘tears’ aren’t because of pain, but secretion of the excess salt that their bodies accumulate. But if it makes people treat the turtles better, I’m all for it.

    And you’re right – no guide needed, though they do help explain stuff and clear up misconceptions.

  21. fAr stAr (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 11:30 am

    if a guide happened to be a balochs (who are basically hut care takers) roaming here and there, it might will increase the number of misconceptions as they don’t have much technical knowledge and they can only tell u what they’ve learnt from their elders, which in most cases r superstitions and misconceptions.

  22. ash (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

    CY thanks for the one of the only upbeat posts this week. I am midly surprised that you didnt jump on the we are doomed b/c of traffic jams bandwagon. Nature is a lot more beautiful, powerful, and joyous outside of captivity (zoo’s).

  23. Sajid (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

    CY: thanks for correcting me.

    As for the balochs and caretakers i never said they are guides, just explaining the person you may see apart from turtle and dogs (dogs donot miss a chance to eat those eggs).

  24. llama (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

    Thanks for the post–will definitely try and go there before the year-end. hope to see them! and yes pictures would be great.

  25. fakhir (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 7:10 pm

    Guys I would like to know do we have to make the Huts appointment in advance or not to stay there. If we have to make in advance then from where any contact number if u can provide. Thanks

  26. Murtaza (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2006 @ 4:03 am

    Most huts there are privately owned. But paying something to the caretakers, they may allow you to use the terrace/porch portion of the huts. Some are so rundown you can use them anyways. You should have torches etc if you plan to stay late, but be nice to the turtles.

    Don’t go about flashing and following them and stay quiet. If they get scared and return without laying the eggs, there is a high probability that they will die. They are big creatures and quite visible in the moonlight. Full moon is a good time for a great experience. If you do spot a turtle, wait till its done digging up the hole and approach silently from behind to see the spectacle. The eggs are like ping pong balls and they may lay up to 200 eggs at a time.
    As far as i recall, the sex is determined by the temperature and other factors of the hole, and as such the entire batch will be of same sex.

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