40.5k Olive Ridleys released in Nellore this year

Over the past decade, the Forest Department has collected more than 2 lakh eggs and released nearly 1.95 lakh hatchlings into the sea.
Forest staff releasing Olive Ridley Turtles into the sea in Nellore
Forest staff releasing Olive Ridley Turtles into the sea in NellorePhoto I Express

NELLORE: The Forest Department in Nellore district has successfully released nearly 40,500 Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings into the sea this year. To support this conservation initiative, the department has established 12 hatcheries along the coast. These hatcheries protect the eggs, collected from nests dug by mother turtles, throughout the 45 to 60-day incubation period before releasing the hatchlings into the sea.

To ensure the safety of these eggs from threats such as stray dogs, snakes, and humans, the department has fenced the hatcheries and employed watchers from local villages, who receive a monthly pay of `8,000.

Nellore’s 169-km-long coastline, spanning 12 mandals, is home to these hatcheries located in Tupilipalem, Pamanchipalem, Srinivasa Satram, Gummalla Dibba, Venkannapalem, Errannadibba, Utukuru, Ramachandrapuram, Kothur, Pathapalem, and Kotha Satram villages within the Nellore and Kavali range areas.

From December, scores of turtles arrive for nesting, making several locations in Nellore and Kavali divisions prime nesting sites for years. Local fishermen have been instrumental in this conservation effort, identifying turtle nests and informing officials. Over the past decade, the Forest Department has collected more than 2 lakh eggs and released nearly 1.95 lakh hatchlings into the sea.

Olive Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys Olivacea), listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN red list, are known for their synchronised mass nesting behaviour called ‘arribadas.’ Killing Olive Ridley turtles is a serious offence under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, with offenders facing imprisonment from three to seven years along with fines.

District Forest Officer A Chandrashekhar highlighted the inadvertent threat fishermen’s boat propellers pose to these turtles during fishing activities. He underscored the importance of conserving Olive Ridley turtles for maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem, which benefits fishermen.

He reiterated the necessity of environmental conservation, urging fishermen to be vigilant while operating their boats to avoid harming the turtles. This conservation effort is essential for ensuring a sustainable and prosperous fishing industry.

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