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Turtle nesting at Galgibaga hit by tourism

 

Turtle conservation on Galgibaga beach, which began in 1999, was due to the efforts of the then parish priest of Galgibaga church Fr Mariano Goes e Proenca, who with the help of some locals, and subsequently informing the forest wildlife succeeded in locating and protecting about 33 turtle nests, the highest since 1999 till date

By Albert Fernandes | NT

CANACONA: Turtle breeding started on a positive note at Galgibaga beach, but gradually for the last 10 years the nesting activity has dwindled for many reasons.

As per range forest officer (wildlife) Vishwananth Pingulkar, the major hurdle is the trawlers which move in the sea at night time when the turtles usually come to the beach to lay eggs.

Tourism activities also pose a hindrance to the turtles, disturbing the nesting activity, he said. Movement of tourists on the beach at night can also be attributed, he said.

Pingulkar said the decrease in egg laying by turtles for the last 10 years could probably be because of weather changes which is a cause of concern.

Change in weather conditions from time to time does not suit the turtles during the egg-laying season and they prefer to stay away from the shore.

He said man-made factors like tourism, which affects the movement of turtles during night time, is a major worry during the nesting season.

Illumination can also be attributed as the turtles prefer complete darkness while laying eggs. He said Galgibaga and Agonda beaches should be devoid of disturbance activities if the turtle nesting is to be continued. In case no steps are taken, he said, the turtles will stay away from the two beaches.

He said if at all the turtle nesting is to be revived, the two beaches should be free of tourist activities and illumination.

Pingulkar added that land acquisition at Galgibaga is in the final stages while till date there hasn’t been any proposal for the same at Agonda.

Of the three major nesting grounds in Goa for the Olive Ridley turtle, Canacona taluka’s Agonda and Galgibaga beaches are two among them.

Geographically, the coast of Canacona is highly diversified.  Canacona coast attracts turtles for laying and hatching eggs, because of its sand dunes, coastal vegetation, cleanliness and ideal temperature of sand.

The Olive Ridley turtles are one of the smallest sea creatures who take their birth on land and spend rest of their life in the sea.

An adult turtle weighs about 40 to 55 kg and is 2 to 2.5 feet in length. It is observed that the turtles normally come in the wee hours to lay eggs. Eggs take about 30 to 40 days to hatch. Immediately after hatching the larvae return to the sea.

A female turtle normally lays around 100 eggs and hardly a few of them hatch. Sea turtles have been visiting the beaches of Goa for centuries but forest department with the involvement of locals started turtle conservation only in the year 1996, and on the two beaches of Canacona-Galgibaga and Agonda.

Galgibaga has casuarinas and stabilised sand dunes. It lies between Talpona estuary in the north and Galgibaga estuary in the south.

Turtle conservation on Galgibaga beach, which began in 1999, was due to the efforts of the then parish priest of Galgibaga church Fr Mariano Goes e Proenca, who with the help of some locals and subsequently informing the forest wildlife succeeded in locating and protecting about 33 turtle nests, the highest since 1999 till date.

It is known from the locals that once Fr Goes e Proenca saw some persons robbing the eggs from the beach and then selling them in the market which prompted him to alert the forest officials who took steps for protection of eggs thereafter.

Thereafter, nesting pits began to be maintained and protected by employing local youth and till today the locals are engaged in the task round the clock.  It is understood that after the turtle conservation effort in Galgibaga, some nature lovers also alerted the

Today Galgibaga has as many as 148 protected nests.

Agonda beach is another fertile breeding ground for the Olive Ridley turtles. Agonda beach has hillocks in the north and south with pockets of granite rocks on the beach.

It is fairly undisturbed area. In the year 1999-2000 there were only around 9 turtle nests  identified and protected and the number increased to 20 year and till the last season as many as 105 nests were there.

The egg-laying season of turtles coincides with Christmas and New Year and due to bright light and parties sometimes these turtles move to other places.

Many turtle larvae are also killed in fishing nets. Turtles are caught and killed for meat, oil and leather. The oil spill by boats and trawlers is also a threat for turtles. Dogs, birds and other animals act as danger on the ground and when they enter sea they have threat from sharks and other aquatic creatures. Hence, on an average 1 in 1000 turtle reaches adulthood.

During the period from 1999 to 2015, the number of protected pits on both the beaches of Galgibaga and Agonda were 253. Around 25188 number of eggs were laid during this time. While the number of young ones released from both the beaches were 18239.

 

 

OFFICIALS’ SPEAK

Trawler movement hurdle for turtles

“The major hurdle is the movement of trawlers in the sea at night when the turtles usually come to the shore to lay eggs. While tourism activity is a hindrance for the turtles on the beaches. Also changes in the weather do not suit the turtles during nesting season. Illumination on the beaches is another reason that affects egg laying by turtles”

Vishwananth Pingulkar, Range forest officer (wildlife)

Disturbances on land, in sea

“As per findings, disturbance is the reason for decline in turtle nesting at Galgibaga.  It is not just on the land but the disturbances are noted in the sea as well. Turtles are sensitive to light and any alleged movement by any person during night time, will be sufficient enough for them to move back to sea affecting their natural instinct to lay eggs”

Anand Jadhav, Assistant conservator of forests

Motor boats should carry out fishing away from beaches

“Fishing activity is a major hurdle for the turtles coming on the beach during night time than any man-made activity. Sometimes turtles get entangled in fishing nets. There were such cases reported from Galgibaga and Agonda. Motor boats should carry out fishing far away from the beaches”

Sanjay Waradkar, Deputy conservator of forests

 

Peoples’Pulse

Turtles face threat from boats, trawlers

“Many turtle larvae are killed in fishing nets. Turtles are caught and killed for meat, oil and leather. The oil spill by boats and trawlers is also a threat for turtles. Dogs, birds and other animals act as danger on the ground and when they enter sea they have threat from sharks and other aquatic creatures. Hence, on an average, one in 1000 turtle reaches adulthood”

Dr N D Nadaf, Professor and acting Principal of Shree Mallikarjun College of Arts and Commerce

Turtles are not crowd friendly

“When turtles come to lay eggs they get affected by seeing large crowds and again rush towards sea. Sometimes they become friendly with the people. There are instances wherein some foreigners have even tried to communicate with the turtles. Sometimes they are fed with cabbage and spinach leaves”

Shaheed Bepari, Geography teacher

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