The number of sea turtles is dwindling world-wide despite protection drives, as trawlers, oil slicks and ocean pollution are the hindrance and such initiatives go a long way in ensuring the species do not go extinct.

As many as 174 Olive Ridley hatchlings were released into the Bay of Bengal near Ramakrishna Beach part of a major conservation drive on Sunday.

The hatchlings were part of two nesting hatched after 48 days as part of a joint initiative by the Forest Department and the Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animal (VSPCA). Now there are 275 nesting with 32,574 eggs under protection.

More are expected till May. Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Murali Krishna released the babies in the presence of Conservator of Forests A. Bharat Kumar, Divisional Forest Officer Ram Mohan Rao, Sub DFO Ramamurthy and a large number of environment lovers.

Such releases are organised every year to focus on the need for protection of these endangered species whose plight is only getting worse despite the strong and successful efforts on the shore.

Visakha Society founder-president Pradeep Kumar Nath told The Hindu that they had been protecting Olive Ridley turtles since 1996-97. They have protected 5,285 nests and released 5.73 lakh hatchlings into the sea.

During current season 32,574 eggs are in place for hatching in 275 nests brought under protection. Compared to 2012-2013 season this year more nests are expected. The incidences of nesting are increasing every year proving that Visakha urban beach is an important sporadic nesting ground for the sea turtles.

Mr. Nath said that the number of sea turtles was dwindling world-wide despite protection drives as trawlers, oil slicks and ocean pollution were the main hindrance. Floodlights on the beach, dog menace and human predators are causing disturbance to their habitat. Violation of Coastal Regulation Zone guidelines are giving rise to indiscriminate construction activity all over the coast, which is also changing the morphology of the beaches making them a matter of concern among the conservation activists.