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MARINE TURTLES

INTRODUCTION

Goa has about 105 km long coastline with scenic beaches of varying length, shapes and beauty. 65 km of the Goa's coastline is sandy beach, inherently suitable for sea turtles to nest on. Olive rideys (Lepidochelys Olivacea) and Leatherbacks have been nesting along the coastline of Goa in the past.

The Forest department of Goa initiated the Turtle Conservation effort from 1996. Studies conducted have revealed that presently, only Olive Ridley turtles are nesting in significant numbers on Goa's beaches. Instances of Leatherbacks nesting have not been reported.

 

Center for Environmental Education (CEE) Goa state office is actively involved in creating awareness about sea turtles issues, monitoring and protecting the turtle nesting sites.

OLIVE RIDLEYS

Olive Ridley is one of the smallest of sea turtles with adult reaching to 2-2.5 feet in length and weighing 40-55.5 kg. The diet of Olive Ridley includes crabs, shrimps, rock lobsters, jelly fish and tunicates. The female produce up to 100 eggs during nesting. The incubation of eggs takes about 40-50 days and the newly hatched larvae return back to sea after hatching. There has been decline in the population of Olive Ridley due to human activities. This prompted the Indian Government to launch the National Sea Turtle Conservation Project in 1981. The project envisages activities encompassing survey of both onshore and offshore critical habitat assessment, mortality, breeding and strategy to develop turtle friendly solution.

Turtle hatchings

 

LEGAL STATUS

Considering the rapid decline in the turtle populations, sea turtles found in India were included in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Turtles are listed in Appendix I of the Red Data Book of IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and also in Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna). India is a signatory to both the afore mentioned Conventions.

TURTLE NESTING SITES IN GOA

Morjim in North Goa, Galgibag and Agonda in South Goa are the three main nesting sites of the Olive Ridleys in Goa. All sites are protected by the Forest Department with the help of local people. The effort has now developed into a community project.

MORJIM

Morjim beach about 2.0km in length in Pernem Taluka, has a good sandy shore with well-developed dune system. A long strip, which terminates at the mouth of river Chapora, is marked by extensive rows of sand dunes with dune vegetation being more pronounced in the southern part. In 1996, the Goa Forest Department deployed Forest guards and volunteers to protect the turtles and their nests. During 1997-98, only 5 nests were located and protected on part of the Morjim beach. This number increased to 8 in 1998-99 and resulted in extension of the protected area of the beach. Consistent efforts have resulted in increased nesting with number reaching 32 nests in 2000-01.

Turtle nesting site at Morjim

Nesting site protection

GALGIBAG

Galgibag is a undisturbed beach in Canacona village in South Goa District. The Turtle conservation effort was started here in 1999, spurred on the success in Morjim. The beach is about 2.0 kms long with the Galgibag river at the southern end and the Talpona river at the Northen end, flowing into the Arabian sea. The beach is backed by sand dunes, which are stabilized by Casuarina plantations. In the year 1999-2000, 10 nests were located and protected. The number of nests located and protected increased to 33 in 2000-01.

Local people at Galgibag Beach

Turtle eggs in nest

AGONDA

Agonda beach is about 1km in length and is relatively undisturbed. In 2000-01, nesting season one turtle nesting was observed by the local people. The forest Department took up the protection of this nest and extended the conservation effort to this site. During the 2001-02 nesting season, 20 nests were located and protected at this site.

Turtle at Agonda Beach

OTHER NESTING SITES

Other nesting sites where sporadic nesting takes place are at Kerim, Harmal and Ashvem in Pernem Taluka; Anjuna and Calangute-Candolim in Bardez Taluka; Velsao, Senarbatim, Colva, Benaulim and Betul in Salcete Taluka; and Patnem, Palolem and Kindlem beaches in Canacona Taluka.The success of the conservation effort has boosted eco-tourism in these areas.

Turtles crawling into sea

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