NAGAPATTINAM: A group of ten people, including Forest department staffs, retired employees and fishermen, are actively working to save the Olive Ridley turtles at the shores of Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam.
M Natesan, a 61-year-old retired anti-poaching watcher from Kodiyakarai, said, "I worked about 13 years in forest department and retired from service a year ago. I have volunteered to take part in the rescue of Ridleys as I am still connected to them emotionally. I still go around to save those turtles caught in nets or in muck or the ones which are turned upside down."
A couple of Olive Ridley turtles, which escaped nets and managed to reach the shore safely, were caught in the nets of fibreglass boat fishers on Sunday. The local fishers were sensitised enough to inform the forest department. "We have been sensitising the fishers about the need to protect the turtles. We are thus managing to save the turtles and collect the eggs, " said P Subramanian, a 65-year-old fishing networker turned rescue worker from Arukatuthurai.
S Kalanithi, the District Forest Officer in Nagapattinam said, "As per our request, the fisheries department has been conducting talks with fishermen to reduce the usage of dangerous nets in the sensitive Olive Ridley Turtle congregation areas. The fatalities have come down in the past few weeks." He said, "There is little we could do about hazards caused by fishing nets spread by fibreglass boats and canoes close to the shore. The traditional fishers say it is their livelihood and the only way of fishing."
The DFO said that the 'Integrated Nagapattinam district' is still leading the state with egg collections, nearing 30,000 eggs. B Ayub Khan, the forest ranger of Vedaranyam, said that 5,000 of those eggs were in Vedaranyam range. Over 40 turtles have been recorded as dead so far in the Vedaranyam.