Saravana Kumar, a nature and adventure tour expert, volunteered with FSL India for the Sea Turtle Conservation Project. Saravana is passionate about eco-tourism and seeks to share his expertise of birds, jungle plants, and animals with the rest of the world. He has over 12 years of expertise taking large and small groups on environmental treks around India. In his words, after nearly twenty years Saravana finally got the chance to be a volunteer in the Sea Turtle Conservation Project, initiated by FSL India for five consecutive nights.
FSL collaborators from the village, Lakshman Anna and later Babu Mogaveera Anna found the new Olive Ridley tracks and nest, at dawn. The upward and downward tracks of Olive Ridley Sea Turtle were found at the far end of the beach close to a Sea walk tetrahedron pathway.
With the help of local turtle conservation heroes( poacher turned conservationists Babu anna and Lakshman Anna) and forest department official Ranjith, fencing with poles, protective nets around the flask shaped nest on the beach were set up. This was the seventh nest hatchery of the season found in the last three months in this one-kilometer stretch of Kodi beach in Kundapura, in the Udupi district of coastal Karnataka.
Amidst tracking the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle nest, setting up the protection hatchery, a Sunday Beach clean-up was also initiated with a local group of enthusiastic, mixed age group of professionals and volunteers. All those involved, stated that they were elated to have been part of this blessing given by mother nature to observe the ritual of Sea Turtles that has been going on for millions of years
After nearly 55 days, the hatchlings from the Nest No.2 had come out. The FSL staff, other volunteers, and local villagers helped in getting the hatchlings to go back to the ocean. For nearly an hour, everyone pitched in, to safely guide the baby Olive Ridley turtles to the ocean.
On average, only one out of a thousand hatchlings make it into adulthood, a poor survival ratio,making the Olive Ridley Sea turtles and other sea turtles, endangered species.Previously, 74 hatchlings were released successfully two weeks ago (from the first nest found for the season in the end of December last year) into the ocean and five more Olive Ridley turtle nests hatchery are left for hatchlings to come out in the next month or two.
One of the biggest challenges these endangered species of sea turtles face is from human-induced” development” and commercial activities along the coastline- from irresponsible tourism to sand mining to overfishing including light-induced fishing, all the masks, gloves, single-use and disposable plastics used in the name of protection from Coronavirus, plastic bags, sachets, plastic toothbrushes, plastic straws that you get in your juices and shakes at restaurants, the plastic list goes on. The fishing communities residing in the coasts, play a major role in not just conserving these endangered species but also as major stakeholders in maintaining the region’s biodiversity.
While there are still miles to go, in conserving the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, and species alike, it is essential to make a difference in this planet while aiming to thrive here, so as to leave the planet making a positive difference for the generations to come.