CHENNAI: On a sunny Sunday noon, the breezy coast of Palavakkam beach was bustling with activities. The Sathyabama University, Department of Fisheries, and Save the Turtle organisation joined hands to spread awareness about the endangered species of Olive ridley turtles through a sand-sculpting contest. Over 120 teams with five members each participated from various backgrounds — school and college students, families, friends and corporates. Every team was allotted a space of 6*6 sq feet to showcase their sculpture on the theme ‘Turtle and Seashore’.
“Not many people know that the nesting season for Olive ridleys happen here. Instead of extending our hands to welcome them, we’ve infested the sand with plastics and garbage. The street lights are so bright that the turtles get attracted, move towards the rods and get run over by vehicles. We want the message to reach a larger crowd,” said Abdul Wajidi, event coordinator.
The Olive ridley turtles find refuge in the beaches of this coastline. The nesting period is between December to March. The breeding happens three kilometres away from the sea and it’s only the mother turtle who comes to the shore. In these months, several turtle walks, talks, and campaigns are conducted.
As a part of the contest, a huge turtle was sculpted at the centre of the beach sand in a space of around 50 sq ft. Its outline was dotted with placards featuring facts about the lives of turtles. While most of the designs replicated the models of turtle, some excelled in terms of ideas.
One of the teams from Hyderabad comprised three boys who studied at Shantiniketan in West Bengal. They sculpted a human’s hands lifting the turtles from the sea dumped with plastics. “We’ve never tried sand sculpting and that’s the reason why we’re here. It’s a lovely initiative towards our ecosystem,” said Goutham, a team member. Families came together to work towards an environmental cause. The winners were awarded cash.