Amid loud cheers and watched by a small gathering of nature-lovers, as many as 66 Olive Ridley turtles were released into the sea from the hatchery prepared for them by turtle-lovers at Kolavi beach on Wednesday (January 1st) – much to the relief of the volunteers of the Theeram nature-lovers group which has been engaged in turtle conservation activities at Kolavi, near Payyoli, for years.
As the freshly hatched endangered species of turtles inched their way towards the sea, there was loud applause. Among those present were volunteers of Theeram, K. Dasan, Koyilandy MLA., Payyoli grama panchayat president K.T. Sindhu, environmental activist T. Shobheendran, Assistant Forest Conservator (social forestry) K.P. Udayakumar, Social Forestry Range Officer, Koyilandy, V. Santhoshkumar, and Section Forest Officer P.K. Abdul Hameed.
Olive Ridley turtles had been visiting Kolavi the beach for many years to lay eggs. However, nature-lovers found to their dismay that many eggs ended up on menu of people in the neighbourhood. Human interference also had led to destruction of the beach in a big way. The result was a disturbing decline in number of turtles reaching the Kolavi beach to lay eggs. Theeram volunteers had prepared an artificial hatchery and, with support of the Forest Department, undertook nature conservation programme since the Kolavi beach was one of the few places where Olive Ridleys chose to lay eggs.
With Theeram volunteers standing guard, a large number of turtle eggs were getting hatched on the Kolavi beach. Olive Ridley turtles reach Kolavi from September to March, lay eggs, cover them with sand and return to the sea leaving the eggs to hatch by warmth of sunlight. The eggs hatch in 46 to 60 days.
Theeram volunteers said this season six Olive Ridley turtles had reached the Kolavi beach and laid eggs so far.