Hundreds of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles reach the Vizag shores every year looking for a safe haven to nest. However, after trawlers, fishing nets, plastic waste is making the beaches they nest on unsafe. The Olive Ridleys feed on jellyfish in the ocean but plastic bags floating in the water have an uncanny resemblance to the marine species. Hence, the turtles end up feeding on these plastic bags that ultimately leads to their death.
The survival rates of Olive Ridleys are abysmally low at 1 per 1,000. Plastic poking out of the rectum of the dead turtles is a common sight on the shore. Representatives of Wildlife Conservation Through Research & Education (WCTRE), which is taking up a beach cleanup drive in Vizag to create a safe place for turtles on December 20, said Olive Ridleys are endangered in the world and are facing population decline due to trawlers and unsafe nesting grounds. They arrive in huge numbers from Australian shores and the Gulf of Mexico and reach the Indian coastline for nesting every year. Each female lays more than 100 eggs inside the sand, closes the nest, and returns.
With plastic laden beaches all around, it is a sad sight to watch the turtles land up in the plastic mess we humans have created. Their long journeys are usually hard enough and hence it is every nature enthusiast’s responsibility to make sure they are safe in their nesting grounds. Fishermen are being urged to use fishing nets fitted with Turtle Excluder Device (TED) so that turtles can escape even if they get caught. However, they claim that the catch is reducing by 20 percent due to the device. “So, these kinds of workshops help us to educate them.
All the stakeholders should work together to ensure that turtles are safe, the WCTRE representatives said. Interested people can join the drive on Sunday at 6 am at the YMCA.
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