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Olive ridley turtles’ nesting season begins

Updated on: 16 January,2023 07:33 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ranjeet Jadhav |

Forest department officials locate 21 nests in Ratnagiri, begin protecting eggs from predators

Olive ridley turtles’ nesting season begins

Olive Ridley hatchlings are released into the sea every year by the forest department

The much-awaited nesting season of the olive ridley turtle has begun along the Konkan coast. The forest department has been able to locate around 21 nests so far in Ratnagiri district. 

There are 14 beaches in the district where these turtles lay their eggs or where the nesting sites are found—Velas, Kelshi, Anjarle, Murud, Karde, Ladghar, Kothare, Dabhol, Guhagar, Tavansal, Malgund,  Gavkhadi, Madban and Vada Bataye. While seven nests each have been found at Velas and Anjarle, another seven have been found at another beach in Ratnagiri. 

Naturalist Mohan Upadhye who has been involved in turtle conservation with the mangroves cell of the Maharashtra forest department said, “Till date, seven olive ridley turtle nests each have been found at Velas and Anjarle. Once we locate the nests, we see to it that the eggs are properly protected from predators by building hatcheries or artificial pits. If the nest is far from the tide line, we protect that nest there only. This is called in-situ conservation while the shifting and protecting of nests is referred to as ex-situ conservation.”

Nesting season usually lasts from November to March every year. A female turtle releases 100-150 eggs at a time, burying them deep in sand pits at beaches. It takes around 45 to 55 days for the eggs to hatch.

Maharashtra has a 720-km-long coastline and its beaches are important tourist attractions. Over the years, it has been observed that some of the beaches in Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg see hundreds of tourists present to observe turtle hatchlings being released into the sea during turtle festivals. The turtle festival that has been going on in Velas and adjoining areas in particular has been a hit with nature and marine enthusiasts.

Also Read: First Green Sea turtle hatches on Maharashtra coast

Every year, olive ridley hatchlings are let out into the Arabian Sea through the turtle conservation programme that has been undertaken by the forest department along with the help of various gram panchayats. 

Apart from predators, high tides and strong currents pose a threat to the nests. Gram panchayat members who help the forest department conserve the eggs, safely remove them and keep them in hatcheries on which sand is poured. The hatcheries are then fenced off. Later when the hatchlings emerge, they are safely released into the sea during turtle festivals. Forest department officials, said six beaches in Sindhudurg and four in Raigad have nesting sites.

Length of state’s coastline in km

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