By A.V. Ragunathan
It is a cause for concern that sea turtles or green turtles are facing extinction to an unprecedented level at the peak of the breeding season in Tamil Nadu.
In the past two months several hundred carcasses of the adult green turtles have been found littered along the coastline in the State. That this endangered has found a place in the Red List speaks volumes about its inevitable role in preserving ecology, according to S. Murugan of the Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology of Annamalai University.
Mr. Murugan told this correspondent that though outwardly the sporadic findings of the turtle carcasses on the shore might look insignificant to the uninitiated their mass extinction would have a long-term impact on marine environment. He said that these turtles used to migrate thousands of kilometres from Australia to Indian coast in search of salubrious climate during the breeding season that extended from December to February.
The female turtle would lay about 70 to 130 eggs at a time and hide them in a sand pit.While the adult turtles were hanging around in the shallow waters they would get entangled in the fishing nets. Since, the fishermen were fully aware of the consequences of netting an endangered species their instant reaction would be to throw the turtles caught in the fishing nets overboard. Mostly, such of those abandoned turtles or their carcasses would be washed ashore
He also attributed excessive pollution caused by indiscriminate discharge of untreated industrial effluents into the sea as one of the causes for the death of the green turtles. Only when these variables were taken proper care of the turtles could be saved from extinction.