World Turtle Day: From Green Turtle to Olive Ridley, A Look at Maharashtra’s Magnificent Creatures
Maharashtra has a coastline of 720 km, which witnesses the nesting of the Olive Ridley sea turtle with occasional sightings of green turtles, leatherback turtles and hawksbill turtles. The local Forest Department as well as NGOs and local communities have done a lot of work for the conservation of sea turtles. In recent years, the Velas and Anjarle turtle festivals have gained prominence in the country, which is a celebration of their natural reproductive process. Each year, these festivals attract tourists from all parts of Maharashtra and various other states.
Speaking on the importance of turtles, Harshal Karve, Marine Biologist at the Mangrove Foundation, said: “Sea turtles are charismatic animals living since the Jurassic era which are now threatened by many human activities such as the unsustainable coastal development, ghost nets, plastic dumping in the ocean, etc. . A small step towards conserving sea turtles will help save these species. “
On this World Turtle Day (May 23), we take a look at these spectacular species of global significance:
Green sea turtle
The green sea turtle, also known as the green turtle, black turtle, or Pacific green turtle, is a species of large sea turtle in the Cheloniidae family. Its common name refers to the green fat that is under its shell, not the color of its shell, which is olive to black. Trawlers, who have sighted them along the coast, say the turtles are associated with rocky areas where they feed on algae. Adults generally inhabit shallow lagoons, feeding primarily on various species of sea grasses. Turtles bite the ends of the strands of seagrass, which keeps the grass healthy. Like other sea turtles, green sea turtles migrate long distances between feeding areas and hatching beaches. Green sea turtles are often spotted by residents of Maharashtra, and residents of Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts have also spotted green sea turtles recently.
Hawksbill turtles get their name from their narrow, pointed beaks. They also have a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells which form a jagged appearance around the edges. In general, it has a flattened body shape, protective shell and fin-shaped limbs, suitable for swimming in the open sea. The nested shells change color slightly, depending on the temperature of the water. While this turtle lives part of its life in the open ocean, it spends more time in shallow lagoons and coral reefs.
Adult hawksbill turtles are usually up to 1 m in length and weigh around 80 kg on average. The heaviest hawksbill turtle ever captured weighed 127 kg.
Some residents of Khavane in Sindhudurg district have reported spotting this species.
The leatherback turtle sometimes referred to as the leatherback turtle or the leathery turtle is the largest of all living turtles and is the fourth heaviest modern reptile. It can be easily differentiated from other modern sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell. Its shell is composed of a layer of thin, resistant and rubbery skin, reinforced by thousands of tiny bony plates that give it a “tough” appearance. Bhau Katdare, founder of Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra, Sanstha Chiplun. He said: “A leatherback turtle was sighted after several years in Raigad”.
Olive Ridley Turtle
The Olive Ridley is tiny creatures, measuring only 70 cm, and is listed as endangered under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The Konkan coast in Maharashtra has been receiving Olive Ridley turtles for 20 years . They travel thousands of kilometers in the ocean and only females return to the original breeding sites within a minimum of two years.
From November to March, the turtle lays its eggs. They dug a hole 1 to 1.5 feet deep in the sand to lay their eggs. This hole is about 100 to 200 km from the sea or sometimes even 500 km from the sea. They usually come at night to lay eggs and leave traces on the sand as they leave. This is how the Conservatives know where the turtles have laid eggs. Preservatives then relocate the eggs to a safer location, i.e. in the hatchery. Once the eggs hatch, the baby turtles are released into the ocean by the conservatives.
Olive Ridley Turtles feed on invertebrates and play an important role in ocean and coastal ecosystems. To witness these magnificent creatures, one can visit the prominent beaches of the districts of Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Raigad in Maharashtra.