Nellore: Animal husbandry department officials on Monday collected the specimens of Olive Ridley Turtles, found dead in large numbers on Sunday on the beach between Vutukuru in Vidavalur mandal and Errannadibba areas in Indukurpeta mandal. At least 464 turtles were found dead. The dead turtles, weighing about 25 to 35 kg each, were washed ashore. Locals alerted the forest department after they noticed the endangered turtles in the two-km stretch between Vutukuru and Errannadibba. Thousands of Olive Ridley Turtles venture into the coast near Vutukur, where Penna river joins the Bay of Bengal, for nesting between January and March every year since the soil condition is best suited for the turtles to lay eggs there and return to the sea.In fact, the forest department in association with an NGO, Tree Foundation, arranged hatcheries in the area a few years back as part of conservation of the rare turtles. Measures have been taken to protect the eggs and release the hatchlings into the sea.
As many as 500 dead Olive Ridley Turtles were found on the beach on Sunday. Forest officials believe that trawlers fishing close to the coast, violating the Marine Fishing Regulatory Act, are responsible for the huge mortality rate of these endangered species. A team of officials from fisheries and animal husbandry departments, led by divisional forest officer (territorial) N.V. Sivarama Prasad, rushed the spot and examined the dead turtles on Monday.
Scientists from the laboratory of animal husbandry wing collected the specimens of the turtles to investigate the cause of death. When contacted, Mr Prasad said that the local fishermen had noticed a number of trawlers fishing within two-km distance of the coast about three days back. As per the MFR Act, trawlers should not fish within 15 km from the coast.
“We are going to report the matter to marine police and other enforcement agencies to prevent movement of trawlers close to the coast. Turtles are dying due to want of oxygen,” Mr Prasad said.