Olive Ridley Turtles are endangered, a few decades ago they were in millions, now have dropped to 6000 in 2 oceans. The female turtles come to the shores to lay eggs, most get caught in gill or ghost nets which are used by local fishermen. The few who make it to the shore and lay eggs. The hatchlings are also not safe, they may be eaten by dogs or by monitor lizards and sometimes even by ravens. But light is their biggest danger. The moment the turtles’ hatch, they instinctively head towards any source of light, thinking it to be the ocean glitter. But some stray towards the roads as they are attracted by city lights and get run over.
Today, my son was invited for his friend’s birthday celebration, instead of cutting cakes, it was different – a visit to a Turtle rescue and release centre near Besant Nagar beach (behind Hotel Leela Palace). The centre is set up every year by Tamil Nadu Forest Department. The centre rescues hatchlings & eggs from their predators & releases them a while later. The centre also rehabilitates turtles caught in nets and helps get back into the wild.
The kids got a chance to pick the little hatchlings from big baskets and to gently release them near the water line. It was a fun and noble experience for my son and his friends.