Activists who work with authorities say that it is common for a few deaths to be reported every year.

More Olive Ridley turtles wash up dead at Vizag beach But dont panic say activistsImage for representation: VSPCA
news Animal Rights Sunday, January 14, 2018 - 14:54

Dead Olive Ridley turtles continue to wash up at beaches across Visakhapatnam with five more turtles washing ashore at the city's RK Beach on Sunday. However, animal rights activists say this is not necessarily cause for panic: Activists who work with authorities say that it is common for a few deaths to be reported every year.

At this time of the year, several thousand turtles swim to the shore to lay their eggs, and many dead ones also wash ashore.

"More deaths would indicate that more turtles are coming to lay their nests. They are vulnerable creatures with low survival rates, but there are other reasons as well," says Pradeep Kumar Nath, one of the founders of the Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals (VSPCA).

The VSPCA has been working to save Olive Ridleys since 1996.

Though not endangered, Olive Ridley turtles are considered a vulnerable species and activists and the administration in Vizag work actively to ensure a higher survival rate.

According to National Geographic, Olive Ridley turtles get their name from the colour of their shell, which is initially gray, but turns olive green once the turtle becomes an adult. The female turtles usually lay about a hundred eggs, and are capable of nesting three times a year.

"The sea turtles of Visakhapatnam face a severe threat from a lot of sources. The tragedy is that a species that has thrived for millions of years, surviving undersea catastrophes such as volcanoes and tsunamis; things that other larger creatures like dinosaurs haven’t survived, is now endangered. Its population is declining rapidly in a span of a few years," the VSPCA had said in its annual report.

The VSPCA said that the three main reasons for the dead carcasses of Olive Ridleys are loss of habitats, trawling activities, and pollution caused by industries.

"The fishing industry and the mechanised trawlers are beyond our control, but they are a major reasons for the death. There is no data to assess the figures this year, but we will get a better picture by April," Pradeep said.

Last year, the VSPCA recorded a whopping 100% increase in nestings from 343 in 2015-2016 to 705 in 2016-2017.

They also saw a big rise in hatchlings from 32,742 in 2015-2016 to 65,044 in 2016-2017.

In an annual report filed by the animal rights group, it said that Cyclone HudHud actually worked in their favour and improved the success rate in the hatchlings, "because the old sand was replaced with new and completely non-polluted sand."

"The Visakhapatnam coast is seeing a steady increase in nestings each year and the increase in success rate of hatchlings despite observing hundreds of carcasses all along the coast, mainly due to mechanised boats and trawlers," the organisation said.

"We are anticipating a similar result this year and we have increased the number of hatcheries. One of the reasons for this is that matured mothers who were born over here many years ago, will come back to lay the eggs," Pradeep says.

Meanwhile, authorities and NGOs have set up five major nesting centres on the beach stretch between Vizag to Bheemili, including in RK Beach, Jodugudlapalem, Kailasagiri, Appu Ghar, Bheemli, and Tandatadi.