Mumbai

8 sea turtles found dead at Dapoli

Stranded: Newborn Olive Ridly turtles stuck in a net enclosing a hatchery at Dapoli beach in Ratnagiri.

Stranded: Newborn Olive Ridly turtles stuck in a net enclosing a hatchery at Dapoli beach in Ratnagiri.  

Local trained to watch over hatchery blamed for negligence

Eight Olive Ridley sea turtles were found dead at Dapoli beach in Ratnagiri earlier this week. The forest department said the incident occurred due to negligence on part of a kasav mitra, a local resident trained to take care of turtles as part of a joint initiative between the authorities and citizens.

Olive Ridley sea turtles are a vulnerable species, which need a great deal of care and protection to ensure that their eggs hatch safely, and are released into the waters on time. As soon as eggs are found on beaches, they are moved to hatcheries constructed close to the sea shore so that they can incubate and hatch properly, under the supervision of kasav mitras.

The incident came to light on Monday, when Gayatri Kshirsagar, a visitor to Dapoli beach, released a video online in which newborn sea turtles were stuck in a net enclosing a hatchery.

“We saw five to six sea turtles stuck in the net and tried to help them. We released them into the water, but three of them were already dead,” Ms. Kshirsagar said.

An examination by the forest department revealed that eight sea turtles had died due to exposure to the elements. Forest officials said the kasav mitra, who was patrolling the stretch on Monday, failed to notice a depression that formed in the sand when eggs started to hatch.

“Once the eggs are laid, we have to quickly move them to the hatchery. Any delay can directly reduce the birth rate of the newborns. Kasav mitras watch over the hatchery, where after 45-55 days the hatchlings are born. We have to be careful and cover the newborns with a basket as a protective measure. After they are hatched, we carry them in the baskets to release them into the waters at the proper time,” Vaibhav Barote, range forest officer, said.

He said in this case, since the concerned kasav mitra, Dattaram Vanarkar, did not notice the depression, he did not cover the eggs, and the resultant exposure to heat caused eight newborns to die.

“However on the same night, 62 hatchlings were also born and safely released into the waters. It is unusual for such a large number of turtles being born in such a quick succession, as they usually emerge in groups of 10 to 12,” Mr. Borate said.

The forest department then counselled all the kasav mitras, urging them to take their work seriously failing which more such deaths would occur.

“When the kasav mitras are not interested in their work, they often delay duties, such as moving the eggs to the hatchery after hours. We will be hiring more experienced people, after which Mr. Vanarkar will be transferred to another duty,” Mr. Borate said.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 1:45:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/8-sea-turtles-found-dead-at-dapoli/article31054367.ece

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