Climate change affecting turtle hatching in Ramnad range

Apart from the other two sites, Keelakarai faced issues in reducing the free space on the shores, which the turtles could use for hatching.
The Ramanathapuram range has three major sites where the turtles hatch — Keelakarai, Mandapam and Thoothukudi — with a total of 10 hatcheries.
The Ramanathapuram range has three major sites where the turtles hatch — Keelakarai, Mandapam and Thoothukudi — with a total of 10 hatcheries.Photo | Express

RAMANATHAPURAM: Unexpected changes in climatic conditions have affected turtle hatching season in Ramanathapuram this year.

The annual turtle hatching season, between December and April, started only in January in Ramanathapuram range this year. It is during this period that turtles, including Olive Ridleys, come to lay eggs on the shore as well as on islands off the coast.

Notably, the Ramanathapuram range has three major sites where the turtles hatch — Keelakarai, Mandapam and Thoothukudi — with a total of 10 hatcheries.

Apart from the other two sites, Keelakarai faced issues in reducing the free space on the shores, which the turtles could use for hatching.

According to the data from 2021 – 2022, the forest department collected nearly 24,391 eggs off the coast, and after the hatching process, nearly 23,617 hatchlings were released into the sea. In 2022 – 2023, it collected over 24,005 eggs from all three ranges and more than 23,048 hatchlings were released into the sea. This year, there has been an increase in the number of eggs collected, 28,000.

Official sources from the Keelakarai range said that since a large portion of land on the shore is being used by fishers to store fishing nets, the space for turtles to lay eggs have reduced as compared to the previous years. As a result, the arrival of the turtles has decreased over time.
People must be more aware about the importance of the hatching seasons, sources said.

Official sources said that the increasing high tide in Dhanushkodi areas have greatly affected the hatching season this year. Reportedly, a portion of eggs kept at hatcheries were affected by the high tides. In line with this, the hatcheries are set to be placed at different locations, based on the tides, in the future. In order to address the increase in temperature, the forest department has planned two types of hatcheries — covered and open hatcheries. Meanwhile, the success rate at the hatcheries in Thoothukudi range has increased to over 95.6 %.

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