Sea Turtle Returning to Nest in Maldives Finds Airstrip Instead, Lays Eggs on Tarmac


By Mandy Froelich / Truth Theory

Did you know — sea turtles return to the same spot every year to nest. For this reason alone, it is important their breeding grounds are protected. Unfortunately, this did not occur on Maafaru island, in the noonu atoll in the Maldives. An airstrip was built on top of a historically popular nesting site, leading a pregnant sea turtle to lay her eggs on tarmac.

Local news outlet The Edition reports that the pregnant sea turtle was spotted giving birth on the newly-built airstrip. The land underneath it is a popular nesting site. Perhaps she confused the warm tarmac with the sand she was accustomed to. 

Despite the bleak circumstances, the turtle was returned to the sea by locals. Reportedly, she was last seen in good health. “Despite the construction of the runway, the frequency with which turtles visit the island for nesting purposes has not decreased,” said as source from the island’s council.

As IFLScience reports, the likelihood of a sea turtle reaching maturity is very rare. Only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings survive into adulthood. Most are picked off by predators. With humans further encroaching upon their territory, it’s even less likely hatchlings in that 

This story highlights the increasing problem of human expansion with little regard for wildlife or the environment. The sea turtle is considered endangered by the IUCN Red List. That means that without aggressive conservation efforts, they may go extinct.

The Maafaru airport is still under construction. Reportedly, the runway already takes up 2,200 meters (~7,200 feet). When it is finished, likely by this summer, it will be able to accommodate six aircrafts the size of Boeing 737s. There are additional plans for a hotel and resort. As expansion continues, the island will become less and less hospitable for sea turtles and other wild creature.

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IMAGE CREDIT:  Maafaru Airport, Facebook

IMAGE CREDIT2: Ahmed Nihan, Twitter

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