By Uma Kannan
Tree Foundation’s Sea Turtle Protection Force (STPF) has released more than 22,000 Olive Ridley hatchlings (baby turtles) into the sea in just this year.
A group of fisherfolk volunteers have helped the foundation, which is a trust for environment education, conservation and community development, release over 1.25 lakh hatchlings since 2002, says Dr Supraja Dharini, chairperson, Tree Foundation.
More than 40 members of the STPF from 21 villages along the 120-km coastline from Neelankarai to Eggiar Kuppam gathered at the 11th annual STPF meeting for turtle season 2013 held at Tree Foundation’s Interpretation Center Blue Beach Road, Neelankarai on Sunday.
Ms Supraja explained the achievements of the foundation with the help of fisherfolk volunteers. The group also discussed how they conserve the critically endangered Olive Ridley turtles and also create awareness among other fisherfolk.
Mr C.V. Sankar, principal secretary, environment and forests, congratulated the team and lauded the works of Ms Supraja.
He said that his department would extend its support to the continuation of the community-based sea turtle conservation along the coast of Tamil Nadu.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms Supraja said, “Our volunteers train other fishermen on sea turtle conservation.
Fisherfolk release those olive ridley turtles that entangle in fishing nets and some fishermen bring them to the coast, inform the volunteers and release them into the sea.” A total of 35 turtles were released from entangled nets between January and March 2012.
G. Ezhaumalai, member of STPF said Olive Ridley turtles nest on beaches between January and April.