A few months back if one looked at the two Olive Ridley Turtles injured on Goa shores by boat propellers, the verdict would definitely have been death. But thanks to the efforts of International Animal Rescue team the turtles could be saved and are now back in the sea waters.
In May this year Goa forestry department officials had brought the rescued turtles to the International organization International Animal Rescue’s Goa centre. The turtles had been severely injured by boat propellers that had battered their flippers badly.
One of the turtles had already lost its front limb and the other’s condition was as bad. The IAR’s vet team set to save the turtle and after hours of surgery decided the flipper had to be amputed to save infection from spreading in other parts of the animal’s body.
The two recovering turtles were then transferred to their own pool where gallons of sea water was filled to give them an environment as close to their natural environment as possible.
It was also necessary to replicate their natural diet so the Goa Forestry Department generously paid for huge quantities of expensive seafood to be purchased daily from the local markets to sustain the giant guests.
After months of medical care, the turtles were on the road to recovery and ready to go home.
The IAR team collaborated with a friend with a boat who used to ply tourists on Chapora river in the state for bird and wildlife sighting. He readily agreed for the journey to set free the healed turtles. The boat’s name ‘Co-Existence’ could not have been more appropriate.
On the D-day the two turtles were carefully wrapped with towels and placed on soft cushions for easy movement. They were transported by IAR ambulance to the nearby jetty and the waiting boat. Bidding farewell to their temporary home and family at IAR, the turtles were on board along with two officials from the Forestry Department, plus those who had worked most closely with the Olive Ridleys during their rehabilitation.
Research has shown that turtles have an acute sense of smell and these two soon became animated and excited, as if they could sense the proximity of their final destination.
According to IAR the degradation of nesting beaches of the beautiful and endangered Olive Ridley Turtles is a huge problem all over the world. But the northern beach area of Morjim in Goa is a protected conservation area and it’s to this site that the turtles travel over thousands of miles, returning each season to lay their eggs by the hundred. The young hatchlings instinctively scramble their way to the sea, but even at sea they are still vulnerable and sadly 90% of laid eggs will never produce a turtle that lives beyond its first year: there are predators such as sharks in the ocean who find them easy prey in their infant stage with their shells still soft.
In India Orissa coasts are said to be the favourite breeding grounds of the turtles with the Gahirmatha rookery believed to be the largest nesting site in the world. But mining and industrialisation along with predators and other natural causes are slowly shrinking the safe beaches and snatching away the turtles’ nests.
For the two turtles that could be saved, may they swim the shores for a long long time.
Reference & Image: International Animal Rescue