Chennai: Sea turtle routes to be studied

CHENNAI: Seeing a sea turtle making its slow, languid movement through a sandy beach to lay its eggs is quite rare a sighting even for conservationists. Early Monday morning, for the first time in this year’s turtle nesting season, a group of ‘turtle walkers’ stumbled upon one such sight.

Members of Kadal Aamai Paadukavalargal collecting turtle eggs from a nesting site in Injambakkam in Chennai on Monday. — Photo: M. Karunakaran

“She laid close to 110 eggs and members of the Kadal Aamai Paadukavalargal (KAP) later moved it to a protected hatchery,” said Supraja Dharini, Chairperson of Trust for Environment Education (TREE) Foundation.

This year, so far, 12 nests and 23 dead Olive Ridley turtles have been recorded in the 13 km stretch between Neelangarai and Kannathur.

Female turtles come to the coast to mate and nest every year between January and March. Female turtles nest two to three times a season. After depositing the eggs, they go back to the sea and wait in a zone five to seven kilometres from the coast to mate again. Many turtles wash ashore dead after being caught in a fishing net or hit by a trawler.

“Only one out of 1,000 turtle hatchlings grow into an adult. The number of dead turtles washing ashore is increasing and something must be done as each turtle represents 1,000 lives,” said Dr. Dharini. To aid in mitigating the number of turtle deaths, she said a satellite telemetry tracking programme would be initiated soon to better understand the migratory routes of sea turtles. “Satellite data will be extremely useful in conservation. If we know exactly where the turtles are going, trawlers can be informed to stay off those areas,” she added.



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