Chennai: In a rare and massive exercise, the Chennai wildlife team, which collected close to 10,000 Olive Ridley turtle eggs along the Marina coast, has successfully released 8,834 hatchlings in a phased manner. On the eve of World Turtle Day the foresters reviewed the hatching rate and the mortality rate of the young ones that were released into the sea between Neelangarai and Marina beach.
“After 25 years, more than 10,000 turtle eggs have been collected by the Chennai wildlife staff along the Marina coastline and close to 90 per cent of eggs have hatched and we are hopeful that these endangered species will visit the Chennai coast as adults,” said Velachery ranger S David Raj.
“The forest department had envisaged a special conservation programme since last year to protect the Olive Ridleys that nest in Chennai. The city is one of the largest nesting grounds for the marine turtles, after the Odisha coast, and we have also intensified programmes for fishermen, advising them to use turtle excluder nets”, said Geethanjali, wildlife warden, Chennai.
“In Chennai, to mark World Turtle Day, the city-based Sea Turtle Protection Force will release a rescued female Ridley turtle, Pallavi. The turtle had injured her left front flipper when it got entangled in a fishing net,” said marine conservationist Supraja Dhairni of the Tree Foundation.
Meanwhile, similar drives were conducted in other coastal districts, including Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam districts. “The turtle plays a key role in the marine environment and groups were formed in the coastal villages of Kanyakumari to collect eggs. The team spotted nests and about 950 eggs were collected and hatchlings released near the Rajakamangalam coastal village,” said S. S. Davidson, a naturalist and conservationist.
In Nagapittanam over 4,400 Olive Ridley turtles, have been let out into the sea over the past three months from a government run hatchery at Kodiakarai in the district, forest ranger Gopinathan said. Kodiakarai and Vedaranyam are areas that attract a large number of Ridleys each year during the December-March nesting season.