The Olive Ridley Turtles are one of the protected species of the turtle across the country and in Goa is discovered only at Morjim, Arambol, Galgibaga and Agonda and poaching of these turtles is against the law and the video that is going viral on the social media shows that a local man dragging a turtle caught in his net with no concern. A video put up by a tourist, Mr. Sohil Lalani in South Goa, is doing the rounds on Social media.

When questioned whether he would set them free, the man mumbled something incomprehensible, like “parks”. His vague answer and indifferent attitude raise a question in the minds of people. “What exactly is he going to do with these two turtles?

The Olive ridley sea turtle is also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle is the second smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.

In India, Odisha and Goa are famous these turtle nesting sites. Four of Goa’s many picturesque beaches are turtle nesting sites, the two most popular being Galgibaga and Agonda. Both these beaches are in Canacona situated in South Goa’s district. Arambol and Morjim in North Goa are also famous for these turtle nesting sites.

Each nesting season, usually around November to March, turtles can be spotted clambering up the sand and laying their eggs in pits. Many visitors are keen to see a turtle laying eggs and are even more delighted when these eggs hatch and the hatchlings crawl towards the water for the first time.

A surge in tourism has to lead to havoc for these gentle creatures and pressure was put on the local authorities to take immediate action. Thankfully, they responded and a number of developments were initiated to protect the ways of these beautiful creatures.

Last year in November, Morjim beach saw its first turtle clambering on the beach to lay eggs, while in Galgibaga another turtle laid its first nest, laying a total of 105 eggs, which had then been preserved in a pit for hatching after 55 days or so.

Since then, Morjim has received three more visits from female turtles all who laid a total of around 400 eggs.

Fires on beaches, bright lights, and flash photography are all part of beach tourism and are hazardous to turtles who are incredibly sensitive to disturbances.

Olive Ridley turtles being endangered, local authorities and NGOs are vying for these beaches to be reserved as ‘Turtle Rehabilitation Centers’.

Conservation for turtles nesting began in Goa as early as the late 90’s when the forest department joined forces with the locals. Nesting pits were created and locals were employed round the clock to stop people stealing eggs or stray dogs from eating them. ‘No Development Zones’ were put in place on the beaches by local authorities along with stricter regulations relating to the building of beach structures.

In the month of February, it was announced that Goa would get its first turtle conservation reserve at Galgibag in Canacona.  The reserve will be set up under a centrally sponsored scheme.

The forest department has acquired 17 hectares of land along the Galgibag coast at a cost of Rs 15.5 crore and the area has now been declared as protected nests.

Deputy Conservator of Forests, South, Sanjay Waradkar said that the department has already commenced the socio-economic survey for setting up of the turtle conservation reserve and appointed Bengaluru-based Dakshin Foundation for the purpose. He also said that a conservation plan for setting up the turtle conservation reserve will be submitted soon.

He said that the reserve is being set up in accordance with provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act and taken up under a centrally-sponsored program, which will include a natural incubation center for turtles, a research center and other facilities, which will attract students and tourists.

Waradkar said that the department has already started the process of taking all the stakeholders into confidence, as the involvement of locals in the project is of utmost importance. He said that the locals living in the vicinity will also benefit in the long run, as the project will attract a lot of tourists.

Now, coming to the video, we are not aware as to why the man has dragged the turtles from the sea. While some say it’s to rescue the turtles caught in the net, others suggest a more nefarious purpose. We can only hope that the authorities are made aware of the video and the person questioned his motives.

These beautiful gentle creatures are a delight to watch and one can hope that our future generations get to enjoy the same sights as we do today.

Source: TOI | Culture Trip | NT 

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