There is no polite way to say this, cautioned environmental activist Nityanand Jayaram. “When plastic comes out of a turtle’s butt, you know things are severely wrong.”

He was alluding to a video presentation made by S. Sreenivasan, a postgraduate student of Pachaiyappa’s College at the two-day inter-collegiate symposium on marine conservation organised jointly by the Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) and the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability, at IIT-Madras.

The need to create awareness about marine biodiversity and its conservation and find solutions to existing threats to the coastal ecosystem was the point of convergence for college students who made the presentations.

The binding themes were against practices such as dynamite and cyanide fishing, depleting coral reefs, industrial pollution, and the devastating effects of plastic and toxic waste on marine life.

S. Tarun, a student of Loyola College, observed that almost 33 per cent of the carbon dioxide released gets absorbed by the ocean which has in some areas turned inhabitable for marine plants and animals.

Students Padmapriya Govindarajan and Krupa Maria Varghese of IIT-M spoke about the need to find a middle ground. Why does it always have to be environment versus development, they asked, and said there were alternatives like strengthening the public transport system that must be considered rather than building expressways.

Jayakumar Renganathan who recently completed his doctorate at the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability, and surveyed ten coastal areas including Ennore Port spoke about how high concentration of suspended solid particles in many areas left no space for sunlight to penetrate the water.

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