Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals
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Sea Turtle Protection

VSPCA Sea Turtle Report for the season 2004 - 2005 at the coasts of Visakhapatnam Urban to Bhimli to Annavaram to Srikakulam

Every new "Olive Ridley" season we look forward with hope and confidence that has been built up from our past positive experience. All these past ten years we have feared losing the battle to protect the sea turtles. But we keep a full measure of dedication and determination since the proof being that the "Olive Ridleys" still chooses our beaches in good numbers. What is hindering our efforts is gross ignorance even though the known ideology of the The Coastal Regulation Zone is meant to prevent illegal construction.

Sea turtle.

Mother olive ridley sea turtle coming to lay her eggs.

Since 1996 - 1997 to the present season there has been enough indication to prove the coastline of Visakhapatnam is a significant breeding ground for the "Olive Ridleys". Conservation efforts should support our primary protection initiatives. In Andhra Pradesh there are five nesting grounds officially identified yet the number of sea turtles coming to them are less than 200. We have identified more sea turtles coming to our small area and therefore it should be added as another important nesting ground. No one has ever done a survey of the entire coastline of Andhra Pradesh and surely there other uncounted nesting grounds as well.

Changing attitudes are leading to community participation and currently our project has extended to 24 villages upstream to Annavaram and Srikakulam (awareness project only) coasts supported strongly by the fishing community.

VIKASA, an NGO working for the cause of fishing people's welfare at Bhimli, has helped this cooperation implementing sea turtle protection for sheer animal welfare concern.

Skillful actions leading to positive results

VSPCA worked relentlessly for nine years to convince all that the "Olive Ridleys" turtles were coming to our back door. Our objective was to conserve the species.

For the past three seasons The Forest Department has cooperated with us in initiating joint campaigns.

Sea turtle eggs.

Eggs laid by olive ridley mother sea turtle.

The fishing communities initially protested on economic grounds but today they stand with us. They realized our good sense and their basic instincts have prevailed that the sea turtles must be protected.

Poachers were converted to protectors.

Religious sentiments have also changed towards protection.

VSPCA Awareness Campaigns did wonders to help achieve all this.

Today sea turtles are commonly known here and an efficient network has been established.

Conservation and protection have prevailed because all have realized that it is part of shared human values.

Actions without consideration for the environment leading to unfortunate results

I. Beach Road: The 21 km Swarna Andhra Sagara Teeram Road from Visakha to Bhimli will destroy the remaining sea turtle habitat. The road project is still hanging in the balance but not likely to be canceled. It is awaiting clearance from The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi. Approval from the The State Government is high on the developer's agenda. The question of permitting or abandoning has been changing but we hope they will see the logic behind our protests.

Citation: Vizagcityonline News, Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

BEACH ROAD WIDENED
The 21-km stretch of the Beach Road between Appughar to Bheemunipatnam is to be widened into a four lane express way, with the High Court vacating the stay order issued by the District Fishermen Youth Welfare Organisation. Contrary to the allegations of the DFYWO, which stated that extension of this stretch would disrupt the breeding of Olive Ridley turtles and destroy natural sand dunes, the Urban Development Authorities have ruled out such threats to the eco-system, clearly mentioning that the stay order had been vacated after obtaining a clear survey report from the National Institute of Oceanography. This four-lane expressway project, estimated to cost 45 crores to be shared by VUDA and the R&B Department, would not only enhance the potential of the city but would also give a fillip to the tourism industry. The new road is to have bus bays, police booths, telephone booths, emergency service stations, traffic islands and service roads en route.

II. Warship and violation of Coastal Regulation Zone Rules: Another round of destruction is that of the decommissioned warship as a museum on the lines of the beach submarine museum. It will be another big battle to save the sea turtle habitat.

III. Sand Mining: This issue has been of serious concern and plans are afoot to allow this. Sand mining will strike a death knell for the sea turtles throughout the AP coast as they will lose a major nesting ground.

Citation: Deccan Chronicle, July 24, 2005

Rare turtle faces mining threat
"It is sheer violation of Coastal Regulation Zone Act of 1991" said founder president of Visakha Society for Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals Mr. Pradeep Nath. Last year 110 Olive Ridleys died along the coast from Vizag to Bhimli while 600 died in Srikakulam. This year the deaths have been less. It is ironic that the killer, the tsunami saved their lives. Sparse fishing activity has helped them breed. "We are working with other organizations to save the endangered species", says Mr. Nath. He said there were many causes for the death of this species. Trawling activity does affect the turtle population while some die due to strangulation. The usage of Turtle Exclude Device outght to be made mandatory by the concerned authorities that issue licences to these vessels.

Citation: The Hindu, Visakhapatnam, August 4, 2005
Olive Ridley will be first to fall if beach mining begins, say environmentalists

IV. The continuous stream of projects and entertainment on the beaches has been a great and serious disturbance. With the human population increasing their forays into remaining natural places will be the sea turtles species loss.

OUR GREAT HOPE

Baby olive ridley turtles.

Baby olive ridleys coming out from the nest after 45 days of monitoring and protection rendered by VSPCA.

It is most urgent that the authorities decide to protect the sea turtle. Every year they are losing their nesting places due to human activities. Nearly 20 kms has been lost due to Industrial Developmental activities right from The California Beach and further activities now being planned in the name of tourism threatens every bit left.

Andhra Pradesh has 1000 kms and is a potential sea turtle nesting habitat throughout. With everybody's eyes on the wealth from the beach and sea; all exploitations for selfish reasons is only throwing to the wind the need to protect the biological balance of the environment for all to survive.

One can observe the change of pattern in the nesting areas when compared to the last ten years. The sea turtles are now moving desperately to the north with hope of finding a safe environment. It is sad that they are not allowed to choose their best places.

Baby turtles going into the bay.

Baby olive ridleys moving towards the Bay of Bengal.  We wish them well!

We hope the authorities will see the absolute necessity of striking a balance in any expansion. Only this careful planning will safeguard our future heritage.

We ask all authorities that measures be adopted at the State level to protect these species throughout the coast and take immediate and strong remedial steps to secure their harbor.

Understanding the effects of the tsunami

The tsunami was bad for human life but good for oceanic animal life. We know because fewer deaths were recorded most likely because the trawler's suspended their fishing activities due to the tsunami and the effects afterwards. This has brought down the sea turtle deaths this season. With the ensuing season we look forward to be able to confirm these findings.

Below: sea turtles poached for eating.

Poached sea turtles Poached sea turtles

Annex: Nesting pattern data for 2004-2005 seasons

From Naval Coastal Battery to Endada:
There have been 280 nestings and 270 sea turtles went back with the hatchlings.

2 nests were lost to the tsunami on the day the waves came in
2 nests lost to predators like dogs
4 nests spoiled due to tramping.

These numbers show a marked increase in nestings despite the tsunami.

Adult sea turtles washed ashore dead were only 15, perhaps due to pre-tsunami trawling activities. This is a marked decrease compared to 110 last year and this includes our entire stretch up to 60 kms up to Annavaram. After the next season we will be able to conclude if more deaths are due to fishing.

From Endada to Annavaram:
The nestings noted are 23.

Srikakulam areas are still into our awareness campaign trying to involve the fishing community to protect these species.

Clearly, unless all the problems facing the sea turtles are solved they will lose potential ground. The nestings can increase greatly if we give the necessary protection.