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22 Aug 2019, Edition - 1500, Thursday

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Coimbatore

Alarm as sea turtle numbers fall; only 400 hatchlings released in Nagapattinam beach

Keerthana Ramesh

COIMBATORE: Conservationists and experts are understandably worried about the decline of sea turtle numbers at the mass nesting colonies. The loss of sea turtles could have an adverse impact on the ecosystem, they say.

Every year, sea turtles lay countless number of eggs in beaches during nesting season. More than 15,000 pounds of eggs are laid each year.

For every 1,000 Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings, only one survives to reach adulthood. About 200 Olive Ridley carcasses have been found along the 187-km coast line of Nagapattinam. Over 6,000 eggs were collected and only 300-400 hatchlings were released there this season.

The collected eggs were immediately incubated over the time period for 45-50 days. “This type of specie, Olive Ridley, were found in the coast of Nagapattinam,” says Dr K Asokan, veterinarian in the forest department at Nagapattinam.

A decline in the number of sea turtles is said to be the result of lesser nutrients in sand dunes and poorer vegetation, eventually leading to a higher risk of beach erosion.

A female turtle might lay about 70 to 190 eggs by digging a hole with its hind flippers. Though no scientific study is being carried out on the alarming drop of sea turtles, The Covai Post reached out the experts about this declining trend.

Turtle deaths are primarily caused by incidental catch, where the turtles are caught in the fishing nets and die due to suffocation. Exploitation of turtles for meat and poaching of eggs for human consumption are other causes. Coastal tourism development is a major threat as turtles get accidently hit by boats.

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Dr Asokan says: “Pollution is a major threat to sea turtles. Much debris like plastic bags, bottles, sewage and fertilisers, chlorinated hydrocarbons and oil spills can poison marine turtles of all ages. Besides the adverse impacts on fisheries and pollution, oxygen deficiencies are known to result in the death of turtles.”

Turtles mistake floating plastic dump as jelly fish and get choked to death; it can lead to their getting tumors. Dr Asokan, who has taken personal initiatives to check the drop in marine turtle numbers, has seen plastic waste into the stomach of dead turtles.

“As a solution for the decline of sea turtles and fish, all cities and towns must have sewer facilities. , Oxidation of organic materials should be done prior to their disposal; laws must be enforced to ensure that industries treat waste before discharging them into rivers and the sea,” he adds.

Human negligence is a major cause of environmental pollution. It is time all learnt about sustainable ways of living, he says.

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