When the tide ebbs at dusk this Songkran (Thai New Year), between 5pm and 6:30pm, on 13 and 14 April at Mai Khao Beach and Layan Beach respectively, guests of both Anantara Phuket resorts are encouraged to sponsor the release of either an endangered turtle or vulnerable bamboo shark. The official ceremonies at each of the resorts, heralds the release of 20 green sea turtles ranging from 12 to 15 months and 20 juvenile bamboo sharks along the beaches where both Anantara Layan Resort and Anantara Mai Khao Villas are located.
Endangered marine turtles migrate across the world’s oceans but return home each year as if by magic, or more accurately using the earth's magnetic field as a guide, to the beach where they were born, to mate and lay new eggs. Breeding season in Phuket is between November to February. From egg to adult, sea turtles face many threats such as vulnerability to sea birds, monitor lizards, climate change, marine debris entanglement and hunting. Almost 90% of all hatchlings don’t reach adulthood. It’s painstaking work but each hatchling that survives, makes it a worthwhile endeavour. MKMTF helps to rejuvenate the turtle population of Thailand by collecting as many laid eggs as possible, which are then taken to the PMBC hatchery where the baby turtles are protected from elements of nature and human exploitation and kept for a year to improve their chances of survival. Over 7,000 have been released since the project began.
Bamboo sharks became vulnerable a few years ago due to their popularity with fish collectors and exotic food eaters. Pollution and overfishing also pose a threat to their survival. The Bamboo Shark breeding programme, also led by the PMBC, helps hatch collected eggs in the shark nursery, rather than in the open sea where they are exposed to predators. After nine months in the nursery, more than 200 bamboo sharks are released annually. Bamboo sharks, native to Thailand and harmless to humans, are amongst the smallest of sharks, growing to only one metre in length. Their presence in shallow reefs is essential as they help keep the reef ecosystem in balance by regulating reef populations, allowing for smaller, algae grazing fish to keep coral reefs healthy.
Learn more about the life of a turtle at the rehabilitation and education center next door to Anantara Mai Khao. The center is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am - 3pm. There is no entry fee and visitors may even be able to assist in feeding the rescued injured turtles housed at the centre.
For more information about the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation and Anantara release programme, please call +66 (0) 7631 7200 or email email@example.com