Herald: After two-month delay, first Olive Ridley arrives on Galgibaga beach

After two-month delay, first Olive Ridley arrives on Galgibaga beach

31 Dec 2018 06:53am IST

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Team Herald

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31 Dec 2018 06:53am IST

Report by
Team Herald

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Lays 105 eggs and returns to sea; Environmentalists heave sigh of relief

CANACONA: Environmentalists in Canacona taluka heaved sigh of relief upon the arrival of the first Olive Ridley Turtle at Galgibaga beach which left the beach by 6 am after laying eggs on Sunday. 

Sources said that the mother turtle slowly clambered on the Galgibaga beach at about 5 am.

After laboriously digging a pit with the help of her hind flippers, it laid 105 eggs and after covering the eggs with sand, the exhausted turtle slowly disappeared in the waters of Arabian Sea.

The forest department officials later shifted the eggs to a pit which is cordoned off with a mesh at a safer place sources said. 

The turtle was about 2 feet in size weighing about 40 to 45 kg.

The news of the first Olive Ridley laying eggs brought cheers to the turtle lovers as they were waiting since beginning of this month for the turtles to arrive.

The forest department has reserved Galgibaga together with Agonda beach for turtle nesting; the Galgibaga beach saw its first nesting on Sunday while Agonda is yet to see a nesting.

Last year, 10 turtles visited Galgibaga beach laying around 1000 eggs from which 800 hatchlings were released by forest officials in the waters off Galgibaga beach, sources said. 

Due to commercial activities close to the beaches, the arrival of turtles has seen a decreasing trend during last few years environmentalists say.

Normally turtle nesting season starts from November, but the statistics of the past few years show that there is indeed a delay of about two months. This year also, the first Olive Ridley turtle to come to lay eggs has happened at the end of December. 

Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), plays a crucial role in the marine ecosystem, occupying a distinct niche. They clean aquatic habitats, control aquatic weeds and are believed to be vital scavengers of the seas. 

Due to rapid decline in turtle population, sea turtles found in India are included in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 sharing place with the Tiger. They are also listed as Vulnerable in IUCN Red List (IUCN 2013) and in Appendix 1 of CITES.

Despite the efforts by the authorities to protect this marine creature, their number has dwindled over the years.

Environmentalists blame pollution amongst other things which are affecting the wellbeing of this shy reptile amphibian. Manoj Prabhugaonkar, a social activists and environmentalist, blames the pollution in the sea to be the cause of so many deaths of turtles during last few years.

“All the waste, mainly plastic, thrown by human beings in the river and in the open reaches the sea during rainy season; mistaking it for jelly fish, the turtles ingest it causing deaths to them,” Prabhugaonkar said. 

Denis Fernandes, another turtle enthusiast, said that too much of commercial activity close to the beaches have driven away the turtles from their nesting sites. “We have to strike a balance between development and environment; otherwise in the coming years, this lovely creature will be driven towards extinction,” Fenandes warned.

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