Olive Ridley’s Journey in Velas
Olive Ridley turtles have been fascinating everyone with their life journey for ages. They found a home in a small village, Velas in Ratnagiri district, also renowned as the village of turtles. These turtles have been visiting Velas for years to lay eggs and eventually the number started decreasing. These already endangered species were not given a chance to live as either they and their eggs were being harvested or the conditions were such that they couldn’t survive. Olive Ridley is very distinct and fascinating species and we will learn how and why as we proceed further with their story.
Civilians turned conservationists
The decreasing number of this unique species every year became a matter of concern. Then, Sahayadri Nisarga Mitra initiated marine Turtle conservation in Maharashtra on 1st October 2002.
They organised awareness campaigns in the village, educated the villagers about the importance and the procedure of a protected environment for the eggs, giving them a new source of income in tourism. In the last four years, they have protected 152 nests and released 7610 hatchlings into the sea.
Coming back to their birthplace after a multiyear migration in the sea
When the eggs hatch, the hatchlings walk towards the sea. Them being deep sea creatures once they leave the place they were born, they travel thousands of miles in the sea.
When females have to lay eggs she comes back to the same place where she was born for a few hours. Only the female comes back. Male never comes back.
Celebrating new life
Animals have always been very intelligent in whatever they do. It is us humans interfering in their task which leaves troubles for them. In this case, usually, the eggs take around 45- 65 days to hatch.
She lays around 120 eggs, out of which not all consist of life. Many of them contain air in it to protect the egg containing life. It acts as a protection to the eggs or even to mislead any threat.
Navigator in their head
Now another aspect to think about is, how do baby turtles remember the place they were born? How do they come back to the same beach?
The answer lies in the Walk of their lives. For baby turtles it is extremely important to walk at least 150 – 200mts on the same beach they were born. That is how they absorb the place and remember it for life.
A research claims the turtles, like many animals, navigate at sea by sensing the invisible lines of the magnetic field and that’s how they reappear on the same shore by recognising the magnetic field.
Parental guidance? What’s that?
None of the Olive Ridleys have ever been guided by their parents; in fact, they never see their parents. They make their own path, follow their own instincts and design their lives. It is interesting to know that a turtle knows what it has to do, where it has to go.
They find their way through oblivion.
The idea of Turtle festival in Velas proved to be a life-changing one, be it for dwellers or for the turtles. The number eventually increased and they got a safe environment for the eggs to develop. Every year hordes of tourist visit Velas to witness the Turtle Festival and experience the tiny tots making their way to the sea in those baby steps.
They flounder, they stagger. Rolled off by the waves, they start again. Creating an artwork, they find their way.Take to me to Velas Turtle Festival