Olive Ridley Turtles are an integral part of our eco-system and are very essential in balancing it. But Ridley Turtles are fast becoming extinct. Fishing, coastline development and other causes contribute to the decreasing number of turtles. Ridley Turtles seek refuge in Chennai beaches during nestling season. The nestling season also happens to be the season with high number of turtle deaths. In Jan, 2015 320 turtles washed dead ashore which created a huge uproar amongst the eco-lover groups. Most of the turtles got caught in the fishermen’s nests while approaching the shore. But Chennaites have stepped up their game to preserve turtles. Conservation of Ridley turtles is done by various NGOs and turtle-conservation organizations. Here are 8 ways Chennaites preserve Turtles.
1. Turtle Walk by Student Sea Turtle Conservation Network
During a turtle walk, volunteers walk the beaches in groups late at night looking for Ridley turtle eggs. The Student Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) conducts Turtle Walks every night during the nesting season which is mostly from December to April. The walk is conducted for seven kilometers from Neelankarai to Besant Nagar from 11 P.M and may go on till 5 A.M in the morning. SSTCN tries to educate the general public and to create awareness about the plight of Ridley Turtles.
If you want to enroll yourself for a turtle walk, visit: http://sstcn.org/
2. Turtle Walk by TREE Foundation
Tree Foundation also conducts Turtle Walks and the walk starts from Neelankarai till Marakanam. The distance is constantly patrolled by Kadal Aamai Paadukavalargal (KAP) which is a group set up by TREE foundation. The KAP patrols the beach and searches for hatchlings and Ridley Turtles. Turtle Walks by TREE foundation starts at 8.30 P.M as opposed to 11 P.M by SSTCN.
If you want to join together for a turtle walk, visit: http://www.treefoundationindia.org/turtlewalk.htm
3. Turtle Saving Nets
The Government has also stepped in to save the threatened species of turtles. A report by the Assistant Solicitor General included various recommendations came up which included prohibiting fishing within 12 kilometers from the coast line. One other notable recommendation was to introduce Turtle Excluder Device (TED) in the fishermen’s nets. Turtle Excluder Device will save a turtle which is caught by mistake in a fishing net. TED is highly effective and has already saved a lot of turtles in Chennai. The Madras High Court will hear a session on June 4th, 2015 regarding 100 percent subsidies for fishermen using Turtle Excluder Device. The act will enable fishermen to include TEDs in their nets.
4. Awareness Campaigns by TREE Foundation
Awareness campaigns are conducted every year by TREE Foundation at frequent intervals to educate the common folk about the various preventive steps that can be taken to save a significant amount of turtles from death. They carry a Turtle mascot and awareness banners and have conducted awareness campaigns in almost 400 fishing villages throughout Tamil Nadu. The fishermen community is targeted most for conducting awareness campaigns and they are made to learn about TED and other steps to save sea turtles!
Contact: 98402 10952
5. Beach Beautification
The Beach Beautification plan was put into motion during 2014 and involved measures that would improve the appearance of the coastline and take extreme care of the marine life as well. According to the plan, a turtle information center is to be set up at Neelankarai for which works are underway. The Turtle Information Center would collect data that could help the endangered Ridley Turtles and the Beach Beautification plan would provide a better habitat for all marine life.
6. Ridley Run
The Ridley Run, which was a marathon, took place on the 8th of February this year and gained a lot of attention and appreciation from the turtle lovers. The run was organized to spread awareness about the endangerment of the Ridley Turtle. The Run received huge amount of volunteers and started from the Marina Beach. The marathon received media coverage further enabling Chennaites to be aware of the need for conserving turtles.
7. Turtle Hatcheries
During the nesting season, numerous eggs are either destroyed or do not hatch. To combat this, hatcheries are set up along the beach line where Ridley Turtles lay their eggs. A lot of turtle hatcheries have been set up from the Neelankarai- Marina beach line and fishermen are made aware of the presence of these hatcheries. Volunteers who are a part of turtle walk collect the eggs and turn it to Hatcheries. Once the hatchlings emerge, they are released in to the sea.
To really understand the reason and to explore the reasons and to find measures to prevent the deaths of Olive Ridley Turtles, it is essential to identify its movement pattern and we could even know if it is nesting. Turtle-conservative groups in Chennai have started tagging turtles to know if it is nesting and to take fast-paced actions to preserve the eggs that it lays.
Saving Ridley turtles has become the top priority for eco-lovers in Chennai. After all, Ridley turtles are essential beings for our eco-system and deserve the best treatment from us!