Speaking to DTNext, an official from the department said that the number of eggs has tripled compared to last year. “We found 40,127 eggs until now. We counted around 12,000 eggs in 2017, in which the nesting season was adversely affected due to the oil spill and other natural occurrences. But this year, the numbers have been high along the city’s coastline,” the official said.
The city’s coastline has a strong community of volunteers engaged in turtle conservation, working in sync with the Forest Department. Every nesting season, department officials, activists and volunteers have been meticulously patrolling the city’s beaches during the night, searching for the nesting sites of Olive Ridley sea turtle, a species which has been categorised as engendered.
The eggs from the nest, hidden deep under the beach sands, are carefully removed, labelled and transferred to hatcheries, where similar nesting conditions are replicated. Once the eggs hatch, the hatchlings are released back into the seas.
Turtle conservationists too confirmed the spike in the number of nests this season. The Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN), which patrols a 14-kilometre stretch between Neelankarai and Napier Bridge, has found 400 nests till date, while the Tree Foundation, which patrols the beaches on East Coast Road (ECR) has found 374 nests – both organisations working in sync with the Forest Department.
Nishanth Ravi, a volunteer with SSTCN, said, “The Arribada (or mass nesting) in Orissa this year witnessed more than 4.5 lakh turtles nesting here. In Chennai and Tamil Nadu too, an increased number of turtles have been visiting the shore for nesting. There is no reason behind the phenomenon. Though we recorded around 290 dead turtles, we have found around 400 nests.” Last year, Tree Foundation recorded 442 nests.
“This year, we have found 374 nests, but the nesting season is still going on,” said Supraja Dharini, chairperson of the foundation.