By C. S. Kotteswaran
Chennai, India — An increase in fishing and port activities along the Chennai's coast has turned the coastline into a death-trap for marine mammals, particularly Olive Ridley turtles and dolphins.
A sad, but routine affair has been that of turtles being washed ashore after being hit by trawlers between Mamallapuram and Marina, say marine conservationists.
According to independent marine conservationists and volunteers patrolling the Chennai coast since December 26, as many as 114 turtles have been recorded dead, with either head injuries or their flippers cut.
Wildlife sources said uncontrolled use of banned fishing nets and unethical fishing practices for a quick buck are reasons behind high mortality of turtles. These endangered species visit the coast for nesting but it is said they are killed due to unethical fishing, sources say.
According to Supraja Dharini of Tree Foundation, the mortality rate of sea turtles this year is alarming. Not only between Chennai—Kancheepuram coastal limit, the trend is disturbing even along the nearby Nellore coast, where so far 28 carcasses of Olive Ridley and a massive 200 kilo leather-back turtle were washed ashore in the past three weeks, she said.
Volunteers of Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network have been patrolling the beach between Marina and Neelankarai. So far, 56 turtles have been washed ashore and most of them died after getting trapped in fishing nets, said Akila Balu, co coordinator of SSTCN.