Tamil Nadu

Will Dhanushkodi continue to be a nesting hotspot of Olive Ridleys?

RAMANATHAPURAM

The 9.5-km-long Mukuntharayar Chathiram– Dhanushkodi– Arichamunai stretch in the eastern tip of Rameswaram island played host to Olive Ridleys during this nesting season, from December to March, but Forest department is not sure whether the turtles will prefer the stretch next season after the newly laid Dhanushkodi Road is thrown open for traffic.

Mandapam Range of Forest department had collected about 13,000 eggs during the season and released about 12,000 hatchlings into the sea, achieving 90% survival rate in its hatchery at Mukuntharayar Chathiram, a record of sorts in this region.

For the first time after the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park launched the sea turtle conservation programme a few years ago, the Mandapam range made the stretch Olive Ridley-friendly and recorded the largest collection of eggs. It successfully released the hatchlings in phases in the hatching season, which drew to a close in early June.

The department is, however, not sure of repeating the performance next season as the opening of Mukuntharayar Chathiram– Dhanushkodi– Arichamunai Road would pose a grave threat to the endangered species. “The serenity in the region will be disturbed once the road is opened for traffic and the turtles may hesitate to prefer this stretch,” Sathish, Mandapam Range Officer, said.

The construction of a sea wall abutting the road at Arichamunai, where the Forest personnel located more than 40% of the nests, and the possibility of tourists and pilgrims littering the area with plastic materials would also pose a threat to the turtles, which were known for their synchronised nesting behaviour, he said.

The department, however, was gearing up to ensure that the stretch continued to be the preferred destination for Olive Ridleys, he said.

As part of the plans drawn up by the department, Deepak S. Bilgi, Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, had suggested that the authorities restrict vehicle movement at Dhanushkodi and operate battery cars up to Arichamunai to contain air and noise pollution, Mr. Sathish said.

He had also suggested setting up of a check-post at Mukuntharayar Chathiram to ensure that no plastic material was carried beyond the point. Besides, the department had proposed to establish one more hatchery at Dhanushkodi for the next season and appoint more turtle watchers, Mr. Sathish added.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 3:47:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/will-dhanushkodi-continue-to-be-a-nesting-hotspot-of-olive-ridleys-ramanathapuram/article19253118.ece

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