Arrival of turtles declining over the years: conservationists

Volunteers of the Theeram Nature Conservation Society, engaged in protecting the endangered Olive Ridley turtles reaching the nesting site on the Kolavipalam-Kotta beach in Kozhikode district for years, have reported grave threat to the turtles due to the large quantities of garbage dumped in the sea by fishing boats.

Society president M.T. Suresh Babu told The Hindu on Tuesday that this year the turtles reached the shore to lay eggs only in November. In the previous years, the egg-laying season had started in September.

Volunteers found 88 eggs this season. They kept the eggs in hatcheries prepared near the beach to protect them from predators and some ‘health-conscious’ people and others who consider Olive Ridley eggs an irresistible delicacy.

The turtles usually bury the eggs in sand and return to the sea, leaving the eggs to hatch in the warmth of the sunlight in 45 to 60 days.

Volunteers launched their programme to protect Olive Ridley turtles in 1992 at Kolavipalam. Since 1998, they had been getting support from the Forest Department.

The arrival of turtles had been declining over the years. Earlier, about 65 Olive Ridleys used to reach Kolavipalam between September and March, the breeding season. Last year, only 11 turtles reached the beach to lay eggs.

Human interference in the form of indiscriminate sand-mining at the mouth of Kottapuzha had led to loss of nearly four km of the eight-km shoreline.

  • 88 eggs found on Kolavipalam-Kotta beach

  • Extensive habitat destruction reported