Turtles need to come to the surface to breathe every 45 minutes to an hour.
At least 30 Olive Ridley turtles have been found dead on the sea shores along Chennai over the last one week. On the Tiruvanmayur beach alone caucuses of five turtles were found. Experts say they are 12 to 15 years old. With the nesting season just beginning, turtle conservationists are a worried lot. Many blame it on trawlers violating the five nautical zone ban this season till March and using banned nets.
Turtles need to come to the surface to breathe every 45 minutes to an hour. Shravan Krishnan, a conservationist, says "Most trawlers do not use the turtle excluder device nets which allow turtles to make their way back into the sea. We are worried about the high turtle casualty numbers this season."
For nesting, turtles choose the exact shores where they were hatched years ago. Every year hatcheries run by the forest department and a few other NGOs rescue thousands of eggs and they release close to a lakh baby turtles into the sea.
K Geethanjali, wildlife warden, says, "We are doing our best. We are implementing the ban on trawlers in five nautical miles with assistance from the Coast Guard, Coastal Security Group and Fisheries Department. We are confident this would be checked."
The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest of all sea turtles; they are about two feet in length and can weigh up to a maximum of 50 kilogram. They are found mostly in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
These turtles are best known for their unique mass nesting where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs. Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years, and the species is recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list, according to the World Wildlife Fund.