Sudarshan Pattnaik's sand turtle draws crowds

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Chennai, Apr 18 (UNI) Even rough weather did not dampened the spirit of scores of people who thronged the Marina to catch a glimpse of the giant Oliver Ridley Turtle sculpted in the sand by noted sand sculptor Sudarshan Pattnaik of Orissa.

The Sand Art Exhibition - Save Sea Turtles - was organised by the Velammal International School yesterday, which roped in the world-renowned artist and 12 others from Orissa to carve out the endangered species on the sea shore.

Apart from a giant turtle (15 feet x 15 feet), over 100 small sized-turtles were carved by school students, who were given a two-day special training by the sculptor.

The programme, the first such in Chennai, was organised to create awareness on the need to protect the species, which comes to Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Maharashtra coasts for mass nesting.

About 50 students from the Velammal group of schools, studying in eighth, ninth and 11th standards, were involved in the campaign, Mr G Prabhakaran, Head Master, Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School and campaign convener, told UNI.

Placards with the slogan 'Don't kill turtles', 'Turtles are our guests,' 'Protect the turtles', were displayed.

The school had brought out 25,000 pamphlets to mark the occasion.

The pamphlets, containing details on the nature of the threat to the turtles, ways to save the species, were distributed to the public.

''The occasion also gave some exposure to our students on Sand Art, organised as part of the summer capsule activity of the school,'' Mr Prabhakaran said.

Pattnaik's sand versions looked as good as real. His name is synonymous with Save Sea Turtles campaigns.

''It took five to six hours to prepare the surface and about four hours to carve the turtle,'' he said, adding his experience with students was ''fantastic.'' UNI GV AA YA HS0914

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