RAMANATHAPURAM: A 10-year-old Olive Ridley turtle that was caught in a fishing net near Panaikulam seashore was released into the sea by forest department officials and locals here on Sunday.
Weighing around 35kg, the adult female turtle became entangled in fishers' net on Sunday morning. Alerted by the locals, forest officials safely released the Olive Ridley turtle back into the sea.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Ramanathapuram Forest Range Officer S Sathish said that every year Olive Ridleys visit the coast for nesting and around 60 per cent of the eggs laid by these turtles are usually found in the 14-kilometre stretch between Pudhu Road and Arichalmunai from December to March.
While a record high of 20,000 Olive Ridley eggs were collected in the year 2018-19, the number dipped to 10,500-11,000 in 2019-20 mainly due to soil erosion at Arichalmunai, he said.
"As the turtles usually mate in October-November, Olive Ridley sightings around this time is a common phenomenon. Until a few years ago, when these turtles were sighted on our shores or entangled in fishing nets, the local fishers would kill them for meat or cut off their flippers to disentangle them without damage to the net. With flippers snapped, the turtles hardly survive for a week," he said.
Now with increased awareness on conserving the species, the local fishers either alert the forests or safely release the turtles themselves, he said.