This year's first Olive Ridley turtle arrived at the Anjarle beach in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district last week and laid eggs, heralding the start of the breeding season for the gentle amphibians, an activist said here Monday.
"Our volunteers learnt about this cheering development and today (Monday) morning we shifted 119 eggs from the natural nests to a nearby hatchery," Vishwas Katdare, head of Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra (SNM), an organisation working for turtle conservation, said.
The eggs are expected to start hatching in the next seven to eight weeks, he said.
Katdare said the turtles start arriving in coastal Maharashtra for breeding as soon as the temperatures dip.
The arrival of the turtles also marks the start of the SNM's annual Turtle Festival in February in Velas, one of the selected beaches about 220 km from here where Olive Ridley turtles prefer to breed.
"This season (2012-13), we have decided to hold the Turtle Festival in four different beaches of the Konkan region," Katdare told IANS.
The festival will be organised at Velas beach, followed by Harihareshwar, Maral and Diveagar beaches.
Katdare attributed the rise in number of festival venues to the increase in the number of visitors from all over the world.
He said local people requested the organisers to hold the festival in their areas to promote tourism.
According to Katdare, villagers from northern Konkan areas like Vasai, Virar and Dahanu in Thane district have made similar requests, as there were some Olive Ridley and other varieties of turtles nesting sites there.
SNM, in the past one decade, has saved about 756 nests and nearly 33,000 Olive Ridley hatchlings.
The SNM's 'Save Turtle' project, launched in about 48 coastal villages, has the backing of the state ministry of environment and forests.