Greens come to rescue of Olive ridley turtles

Overcoming the challenges posed by the August deluge, heatwave and other impediments, environmentalists and local people have incubated and released 226 hatchlings of endangered Olive ridley turtle to sea at Thottappally coast. The last of the hatchlings of the current nesting season were let into sea on Friday morning.

The Thottappally coast is one of the prime locations for egg-laying turtles in the State. According to environmentalists, they stumbled upon only three nests with a total of 342 eggs during the entire season as against 11 nests a year ago. Last year, 1,648 hatchlings were released to the sea.

“This season, the first nest with 106 eggs was found just before the floods in August 2018. When the floodwaters started to submerge the area, we built a small concrete tank with roof and placed the eggs in it for incubation.

The entire tank was then covered with plastic to prevent the water from entering it. Although it took more time than usual, 53 eggs have been hatched. Further, two more clutches with 120 and 116 eggs have been found after the turn of the year. Despite the dry conditions, of the 116 eggs in the third nest 110 eggs have been hatched,” Saji Jayamohan, secretary, Green Roots Nature Conservation Forum, told The Hindu.

Sea erosion

Mr. Jayamohan said the floods and sea erosion had eroded around seven acres of the coast that used to be the main nesting sites of Olive ridleys.

“Other than the damage caused by the floods, the presence of stray dogs and mineral sand-mining at the Thottappally harbour also prevented turtles from nesting in the area,” he said.

The environmentalists said lack of a permanent hatchery and rescue centre hampered their conservation efforts.

At present, after Olive ridleys lay eggs, the environmentalists and social forestry officials, with the help of local people, relocate eggs to temporary hatcheries from areas with tidal fluctuations. Also, they want to protect it from stray dogs and other dangers.

Although a proposal for a permanent hatchery has been submitted to the government, the project is yet to get the nod.

Other than the mineral sand-mining at the Thottappally harbour, the move to extract mineral sand from the Thottappally estuary will further adversely impact the nesting of turtles, the environmentalists warned.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 2:55:50 AM |

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