There has been a significant rise in the number of sea turtles that were found dead along the sea coast in Nellore district recently. The conservationists blame it on the increased movement of mechanised boats.

The Tree Foundation, an organisation working in conservation and community development aspects, expressed concern over the increased findings of dead turtles on the beaches. It stressed the need for enhanced involvement of local communities for the protection and preservation of the turtles. The foundation has been working jointly with the wildlife wing of the Forest Department in AP in the community-based turtle conservation programmes for over five years. These activities are being carried out with the help of local people in Nellore and other selected coastal districts. Tree Foundation chairperson Supraja Dharani said that the sea turtles usually come to the shore for nesting during the season extending from January to March. Each female turtle lays nearly 60 to 120 eggs.

The volunteers of Tree Foundation have found about 24 dead turtles along the coast in TP Gudur mandal, 44 in Indukuripeta mandal and 48 in Kavali mandal limits.

Sea turtles are breathing reptiles and they need to come to the surface of sea every 45 minutes to take air. Once these turtles are caught in fishing nets, they are pulled down into water which eventually leads to their death. Fishermen are requested to check their nets every now and then and release any turtle which is caught in their nets. Awareness is being increased on this aspect as fishermen’s role in protection of turtles remains significant.

Ms. Dharani said that the seat turtle protection force has been formed with local communities along the beaches. The district Forest Department is arranging for stipend for the members of the turtle protection forces.

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