Turtle Returns to Lay Eggs in the Maldives, Confronted with New Runway

Apr 13, 2019

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An endangered turtle returned to a historically popular nesting site in the Maldives recently to lay her eggs and was met with an unexpected surprise: a newly built runway. The green sea turtle is shown in images laying her eggs right on the airstrip of Maafaru Island, one of the inhabited islands of the Maldives.

The site was previously a beach that turtles used to nest. However, the 2,200-meter runway was constructed in 2018, interrupting the turtles’ natural habitat. The entire airport, when complete, will be valued at $60 million, according to former Maldives president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Because turtles return to the same location to lay their eggs, the new airport could potentially pose a long-term threat to the wellbeing of the turtles. However, a local source from the Maafaru Island Council said that, “despite the construction of the runway, the frequency with which turtles visit the island for nesting purposes has not decreased.”

The green sea turtle is already endangered and, according to World Wildlife, the species is threatened due to “overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites.” Thankfully, the Independent reported that the turtle pictured laying its eggs seemed to be in good health after the incident and made it back to the sea, according to locals.

The airport is not currently complete, but when it is, the runway is supposed to accommodate six jets at a time. Plus, a hotel and resort will be built on Maafaru Island. Activists are using their voices to fight against the loss of the already-endangered species’ habitat.

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