Wildlife authorities and marine conservationists have launched annual outreach programs to welcome nesting olive ridley turtles along the coast of Tamil Nadu. Videos of entangled turtles released into the sea by skilled fishermen are also being released as part of the awareness campaign and there will be more awareness marches among children to promote nesting of mother turtles, informed foresters said.
âThe concept of turtle conservation dates back to the 1990s and walks with turtles were common in Besant Nagar. Now the Forestry Department is erecting nesting sheds continuing conservation programs.
Awareness of turtles had now reached several parts of the state, âsaid the septuagenarian R Ranganathan based in Besant Nagar.
âTurtles have started to arrive seasonally and this year we expect more nesting along the southern coast of India,â said Supraja Dharini, marine ecologist and founder of Tree Foundation. The community-based marine ecosystem conservation program started in 2002 and the Tree Foundation has so far trained over 363 Sea Turtle Protection Force members from 222 fishing communities in Chennai, Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and the south of Odisha.
Specialized outreach programs for the release of endangered marine species entangled in ghost nets and fishing gear are regularly conducted with these identified fishing communities, Dharini said.
Meanwhile, four fishermen – M Prabhakar, M Elumalai, M Loganathan and E Kanthan from the fishing village of Paramankeni south of Kalpakkam while fishing 8 nautical miles from shore, found a female olive ridley turtle entangled in their net. for flying fish (kolameen). The fishermen then pulled the net close to the boat and safely released the female turtle to continue her life cycle. Likewise, in another case, the fishermen also filmed the turtle release and are now being broadcast among TN fishermen and school students to promote turtle conservation.
IT Major HCL had also hired NGOs and volunteers to raise public awareness about sea turtles.
It should be noted that the Odisha government, in collaboration with the MSSRF, had also developed a custom mobile application (FFMA) that would alert fishermen to no-take zones to conserve Olive Ridley sea turtles in Endangered.