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Home > Mumbai Guide News > Things To Do News > Article > Make way for the Olive Ridley

Make way for the Olive Ridley

Updated on: 23 February,2024 07:31 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Devanshi Doshi | devanshi.doshi@mid-day.com

A two-day festival in Vengurla ushers the hatching season of this turtle species’ eggs, and will also host awareness and sensitisation programmes with locals and conservation experts

Make way for the Olive Ridley

Representation Pic

Birth is considered to be one of the finest moments of nature. And if there is one such phenomenon you wish to witness this year, let it be this weekend. Hundreds of newly-born Olive Ridley turtles nested along the Vengurla beach will emerge from their shells, and wobble towards the sea with their tiny feet bearing the weight of their tinier, palm-sized shells. The Sawantwadi division of the Maharashtra Forest Department is hosting a two-day Turtle Festival of Wayangani-Vengurla to celebrate the fruition of yet another successful breeding season of the vulnerable species, who over the years were subject to massive decline in population due to poaching.


Visitors watch as the turtles are released into the sea
Visitors watch as the turtles are released into the sea


“This weekend will mark the beginning of the season when the eggs laid along the shore by adult Olive Ridley turtles, nearly 45 to 55 days ago, start hatching,” explained Navakishore Reddy, IFS and Deputy Conservator of Forest (Sawantwadi Division). “The aim behind hosting this festival is to urge people to come over to these beaches to witness the hatchlings take their first steps on the shore and into the sea. This helps the people to connect with the species; they learn about the need for and the process of conservation. This is also done keeping in mind that locals, who spend days and nights conserving these species, make a livelihood out of the service or products they sell — this could be through rooms to offer accommodation in, regional fare they prepare and the guided tours they organise.”


Navakishore Reddy
Navakishore Reddy

Reddy shares that apart from witnessing the release of turtle hatchlings, there will be mangrove safaris, workshops and lectures on turtle conservation by experts as well as a community visit to eco-tourism expert, Konkani Ranmanus’ Mangar homestay (to explain the benefits of sustainable living), and the staging of the mythological Dashavatara drama, Kurma (Turtle) Avatar.

One such lecture will be given by the honorary wildlife warden of Sindhudurg (Forest Department) Nagesh Daptardar, who has been an integral part of the conservation projects across these beaches since its inception. “There were days when one would barely see a single hatchling throughout the day, but now we record over 36,000 hatchlings every year in the district,” Daptardar beams. Nearly 24 years ago, the wildlife enthusiast started visiting homes of locals in Tambaldeg village, spreading awareness about the need for conservation, while equally learning from them. Slowly, he started getting the media involved to highlight the exceptional conservation work done by the locals.

“They began to get acknowledged, and it motivated them to take up it seriously. Before we knew it, hatchling numbers increased exponentially,” he revealed. While the district is home to five types of turtles, namely Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Green Sea, Loggerhead, and Leather Back, the most numbers of Olive Ridley hatchlings are known to be spotted in Vengurla. “Last year, we recorded over 750 hatchlings,” reveals Reddy, “While this is an annual festival, tourists are welcome to spot these hatchlings throughout the season that ends in early May.”

On: February 24 to 25
At: Vengurla Beach, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra.
Call: 9421175336 (for registration, enquiries on home-stays, full itinerary)

Guidelines

Olive Ridleys hatch out of their eggs during the night time when there are the least chances of being attacked/consumed by a predator. Follow these guidelines
>> Avoid roaming with your pets on the beach at night; they can be viewed as predators by the hatchlings 
>> Do not play loud music or set up shacks on the beach 
>> Avoid switching on mobile flashlights or creating campfires. The turtles will not come out if they see light
>> Do not touch an Olive Ridley turtle. Experts will be the only ones releasing them. These are a Schedule 1 species that are as protected under the law as the Royal Bengal Tiger
>> Do not litter the shoreline or the sea. It harms wildlife. If you spot plastic strewn around, dispose it in the correct manner. A clean-up drive by the department will be held after the festival
- Nagesh Daptardar

Cool facts

>> An Olive Ridley turtle egg typically takes nearly 55 days to hatch. However, due to rising temperatures, some have also started hatching within 48 days 
>> The ideal temperature for the eggs to be in is 27 degree Celsius. If this temperature is maintained from the early stages, half the eggs will produce male turtles while the other half will produce female turtles. Three to four degrees less than the ideal temperature will result in the birth of all female turtles, while an increase in the temperature by the same degree will birth all male turtles 

Olive Ridley turtles in an enclosed space before they are released into the sea
Olive Ridley turtles in an enclosed space before they are released into the sea

>> For every 1,000 hatchlings that are released into the sea, only one per cent is known to survive owing to predators, poachers and water pollution
>> Adult mother Olive Ridley Turtles return to their place of birth nearly 20 to 25 years later to lay their eggs. They have a strong ability to sense the magnetic field and use it for navigation
- Nagesh Daptardar

How to reach

>> By road: Drive down from Mumbai to Vengurla using National Highway 66.
>> By train: Board a Konkan/Goa-bound train that halts at Kudal station. A further journey of 22 km will have to be covered via a rented vehicle that is available to help you reach the destination

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