Phuket celebrates Songkran by releasing turtles -

March 04, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel News highlights Songkran celebrations take place all over Thailand in April, but there is one aspect of the festival that remains unique to Phuket.

As part of the country's traditional new year festivities from April 13th to 15th, people on the island will release captive turtles into the water at selected beaches.

Coastal areas like Patong and Karon are usually the main focal points for the Songkran celebrations, but people using accommodation in Phuket will have to visit quieter beaches such as Nai Yang and Mai Khao to see the turtles.

As the animal is viewed as a symbol of patience and wisdom, releasing turtles into the water is thought to bring people good luck and help them to live a long life.

A turtle releasing ceremony was also held on Phuket in early January in recognition of the western new year, with the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation sending 50 green sea turtles into the water.

Such ceremonies have additional significance due to the fact that the long-term future of many turtle species is in jeopardy.

Citing figures from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Thai Turtle Trust has estimated that half of the 72 species native to south-east Asia are either endangered or critically endangered.

For people using accommodation in Thailand, the Songkran festival in Phuket provides an opportunity to see the animals return to their natural environment.