In an extremely worrying trend to the start of the Olive Ridley Turtle nesting season, as many as 41 dead turtles have been found in the city’s beaches.
Volunteers from the Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN), who were patrolling the beaches on Sunday night looking for nests, found 13 dead turtles. “We have found only three nests and as many as 41 dead turtles so far. With the season just beginning, more Olive Ridleys will be coming to the shore,” said Akhila Babu of SSTCN.
Stating that the previous year, the nesting activity was extremely low, Ms. Akhila said that the number of dead turtles found was low too, as a result. “In 2015, however, we found over 300 dead turtles as the nesting activity too was extremely high that year,” she said.
Conservationists stressed on the need for the enforcement of making Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) compulsory in fishing nets. With nesting activity pretty low in 2016, volunteers working with the conservation of Olive Ridley turtles said that they were expecting a good nesting season this year.
Shravan Krishnan, a volunteer with the SSTCN, said that around 10 of the dead turtles were found in the stretch between Neelankarai to Broken Bridge and the rest were found on the Marina Beach at the stretch from Foreshore Estate to Napier Bridge.
Sources in the Fisheries Department said that in order to safeguard turtles, trawling has been banned in the five nautical mile stretch based on the orders of the Madras High Court.
The Forest Department, along with personnel from the Fisheries Department, are doing a walking survey of turtle nesting sites. In the meanwhile, a technical committee is studying various models of turtle excluder devices that could be installed in nets.