All of the 3 species of sea turtles known to nest on India’s West Coast are now classified as an endangered species. They have been around for than a 100 million years, and even outlived the dinosaurs, but today, Man’s actions are threatening their survival. Human encroachment into their natural habitat, indiscriminate fishing practices and egg predation in the areas where they hatch are fast driving them towards extinction. Our Sea Turtle Conservation project in Kundapur, aims to conserve these remarkable creatures and preserve their natural nesting ground.
In February of 2013, our volunteers for the conservation project visited a rescue center in Honnavar, a port town in the Uttara Kannada District of the Indian state of Karnataka to learn from some experts in the field. Members of the Canara Green Academy shared their knowledge and approach to protecting sea turtles, a methodology that is the result of work begun decades ago, in 1984. Collaborative efforts of the Forest Department and the Village Forest Committee have also been instrumental in conservation efforts.
The experience sharing threw light on the effect of fishing practices on sea turtles. In Honnavar, for example, where traditional fishing is prevalent, there were fewer cases of wounded sea turtles when compared to Kundapur, where deep sea fishing boats and trawlers endanger them. Our volunteer team had the opportunity to visit the hatcheries at the centre and learn about how the hatcheries were built and maintained. We also visited a sea turtle rescue center in nearby Apsarakonda.
The visit provided valuable insights to the team for improving our own conservation efforts in Kundapur. Volunteers in the project are involved in awareness raising initiatives in schools and fishing communities, creating design and promotional material for spreading the message of conservation, data gathering and analysis etc. The team also builds hatcheries and temporary information centers for communities to learn about sea turtles.