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April 23, 2018
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Olive Ridley turtles return to Versova after 20 yearsClean-up volunteers notice 80 hatchlings; forest officials lead them into the sea; environmentalist calls it a historic moment

Despite Mumbai’s polluted beaches, Olive Ridley turtles seem to have found one beach clean enough to nest. A group of volunteers, engaged in a clean-up of the Versova beach on Thursday, spotted around 80 hatchlings. They called forest officials and ensured the turtles had a smooth passage into the sea.

City-based lawyer and environmentalist Afroz Shah, who initiated the beach clean-up drive in 2015, was present when the hatchlings were sighted. “We were told by officials that the last sighting of Olive Ridley turtles on the beach was 20 years ago,” Mr. Shah said.

N. Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forests, said, “We haven’t noticed nesting of turtles on the Versova beach in the last several years. They normally lay eggs at places they feel safe and secure.”

Sporadic nesting

The official said there is a possibility that adult female turtles came back to nest at the place they were born. “In Maharashtra, we keep noticing sporadic nesting of Olive Ridley turtles, especially on the Ratnagiri, Raigad, and Palghar coast,” Mr. Vasudevan said.

Mr. Shah described the news as fantastic and a historic moment for Mumbai. “The turtles nested and hatched on our beach. We facilitated their journey into the sea,” he said, adding, constant cleaning of the beach helps marine species.

Life changing experience

A volunteer, who was present at the Versova beach, said, “I witnessed something surreal today. A life changing experience. Eighty Olive Ridley turtles walked into the sea.” In July last year, an adult turtle was rescued on Juhu beach. Animal activists had rushed the turtle to a vet clinic.