Over 50 dead turtles wash up along coast

Apr 06, 2012, 08:32 IST | Adnan Attarwala

Over the past 10 days, around 50 carcasses of endangered olive ridley and hawksbill turtles have washed ashore between Diveagar and Ratanagiri.

Conservationists are hinting that it could be the result of a chemical leak at sea. To ascertain the cause of death, they will begin collecting tissue samples from carcasses. Two whales carcasses washed ashore last week at Malabar Hill and Uran. Also, the carcass of a 11-metre whale shark was seen floating in the waters near Karachi Harbour a month ago.

“We are in the process of investigating whether any poisonous chemical has been diffused by some ship. Such chemicals can dilute and spread in the sea, causing havoc for marine life,” said Vishwas Kathdare director of Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra, an organisation working on a turtle conservation project with the state forest department.

Kathdare confirmed that the carcasses, just like the whales that washed ashore a week ago, are not fresh and could have perished much earlier and took time for the currents to carry them towards land.

Since olive ridley, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles visit coastal districts like Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Thane and other areas along the the state coastline during this season to lay eggs, many experts have ruled out the possibility of chemical leakage.

They believe that these creatures died of natural causes or as a result of modern fishing practices. It has been reported earlier that propeller-driven fishing boats, trawlers and gill nets are causing the deaths of turtles. Turtles get entangled in the nets and injure their flippers when fishermen wrench them free and toss them back into the ocean.

Injured and untreated, the turtles starve since they cannot manoeuvre and catch fish and then slowly perish. “Every year during this season, lakhs of turtles visit the shores to lay eggs. These turtles travel upto 5,000 or 6,000 kilometres and in the process might get hit by a propeller or die due to natural causes,” Dr Shankar Gajhbiye, scientist-in-charge, National Institute of Oceanography said. 

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