Nagapattinam, Apr 13: Over 3000 Olive Ridley turtles, hatched in the artificial hatchery run by the forest department in Nagapattinam district, have been let into the sea during the past few weeks, District Collector S Pazhanisamy said today.
The hatching project has been undertaken as part of the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Conservation and Greening Project (TBGP). Speaking to reporters here, the Collector said the coastal stretch of Nagapattinam district, especially Kodiakarai and Vedaranyam areas, attract a large number of olive ridleys, an endangered species, every year during the nesting season, which begins in November and continues till March.
The female ridleys travel towards the coast to lay eggs. Each female ridley lays around 100 eggs and returns to the sea. The hatching period ranges around 60 days. Predators like dogs, crows and vultures damage and eat the eggs on the coast.
Normally, most eggs get damaged and only a handful successfully hatch. "To prevent the eggs from getting damaged, the forest department, as part of the TBGP, has set up egg collection centres at multiple points in the district," the Collector said and added that artificial hatcheries have been set up at seven places in the coast. The young ones that come out in the hatchery are put in the sea, which is their natural habitat.
This year 7535 eggs were collected, the collector said. Over 3000 olive ridleys hatched in the hatchery have been let into the sea during the past few weeks, he said. Olive Ridleys have been classified as endangered species and only about one in 1000 of the young ones let into sea manage to survive, District Wildlife Warden C Vidhya said.
Gopinath, Forest Ranger, Vedaranyam said the forest department was utilising the services of local fishermen in collecting the eggs. On Wednesday, a few hundred ridleys hatched in the hatchery at Vizhundamavady centre were let into the sea.