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2,000 turtle eggs find their way to hatcheries

A sea turtle laying eggs on the Rameswaram coast in Tamil Nadu.

A sea turtle laying eggs on the Rameswaram coast in Tamil Nadu.  

A month after launching a sea turtle conservation project under Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Conservation and Greening Project, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, has collected about 2,000 turtle eggs and shifted them to two hatcheries.

After the nesting season began in December, the park had established two artificial hatcheries, one at Dhanushkodi and the other at Opilan, and intensified the conservation efforts by deploying watchers and ‘special turtle walkers’ to identify and protect the nests along the coastline.

“So far we have identified 20 nests, collected 2,030 eggs, and shifted them safely to the hatcheries,” Wildlife Warden Deepak Bilgi said.

The Dhanushkodi hatchery would cover a 60-km-long coastline from Arichalmunai to Pudumadam, and the one at Opilan will cover a 30-km-long coastline from Vembar to Mariyur, he said. “This time, as there was timely collection and shifting of eggs to the hatcheries, we expect good results with a survival rate of more than 90 per cent,” Mr. Bilgi said.

The first batch of hatchlings would be released into the sea by the first week of March. Last year, they collected about 950 eggs and the survival rate was just above 50 per cent owing to sudden downpour during the hatching season in May, he said.

Besides 15 forest watchers, eight guards, four foresters and a ranger, 10 ‘special turtle walkers’ had been deployed this year to monitor the nests, Forest Range Officer S. Ganeshalingam said.

The coastal areas of Azhagankulam, Aartangarai, Dhanushkodi, Kundukal, Pudumadam, Sethukarai and Mariyur had been identified as preferred destinations of the turtles, he said.

The conservation project was launched in 2014, mainly to protect turtle nests from predators such as stray dogs and crabs and the hatcheries were set up last year.

Of the five species of sea turtles — Olive Ridley, Green, Loggerheads, Leatherheads and Hawksbill — found in the Gulf of Mannar region, green turtle was the most common, he added.

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