CANACONA: Anxiety over a delayed start to the turtle nesting season at Agonda and Galgibaga has given way to relief among forest officials as Olive Ridley turtles made a beeline for both sites and left behind 17 nests. The turtles are known to come in singles but in an amazing episode, four surfaced at Agonda on a single day on February 10 and deposited 454 eggs in the sandy stretches. The season has witnessed a delayed start since the last few years which saw the first nesting only during the last week of December. But the swarm of flippered visitors at the two designated sites of Agonda and Galgibaga over the last few weeks has surprised officials and turtle lovers as the total of nests at the two spots swelled to 23 including six nests at Galgibaga. The first turtle appeared at Agonda beach on December 31, 2021 and at Galgibaga on January 3, 2022, range forest officer (RFO), wildlife, AnantVelip said. The last turtle arrived in the wee hours of Saturday depositing 53 eggs and returned back to the sea. The forest staff which oversees the relocation of eggs to nurseries and patrolling to protect them from poaching, expressed joy over the encouraging number of nests and extremely productive season for the turtles. Turtle conservation was pioneered in south Goa at Galgibaga after Morjim in north Goa. Over the last 43 days as many as 17 Olive Ridley turtles preferred the Agonda beach despite its hustle and bustle, with the last turtle arriving in the intervening hours of 12th and 13th February. After laying 53 eggs it went back in the sea leaving the eggs to be shifted to the nurseries by the forest staff, Velip said. Velip was all praise of the forest staff who have been deputed at the nurseries in Galgibaga and Agonda. “The total number of 17 pits at Agonda account for a record 1,682 eggs,” an official said.
Canacona: The forest department has so far protected eight Olive Ridley turtle pits in its nursery at the Nature Interpretation Centre, Agonda, and two pits at the Galgibaga beach, with a total of 898 turtle eggs. However, one pit at Agonda has not opened yet. Canacona range forest officer Anant Velip said he is happy that during this month, till date, the crawling creatures have shown interest in laying eggs on the Agonda beach in spite of some or the other disturbance. He hopes that in the months ahead, more turtles will approach both the beaches to lay eggs. He said the first Olive Ridley turtle arrived at Agonda beach on December 31, and laid 118 eggs and thereafter, periodically turtles have been visiting, with the last turtle arriving on Wednesday. He said the turtle went back into the sea after laying 85 eggs. While at Galgibaga, the first Olive Ridley turtle surfaced on the beach in the wee hours of January 3, and left the beach after laying 117 eggs and the second turtle nest was protected on January 24, when the turtle laid 55 eggs. In all, 172 eggs are protected in the nursery at Galgibaga, Velip added.
Poinguinim: As lights and din are a hindrance to the nesting process, an Olive Ridley turtle preferred to lay its eggs at Agonda beach in the early hours of Friday. The turtle appeared at 4.30am and after laying 114 eggs disappeared into the sea. Soon after, this first turtle nesting pit for the season was enclosed by forest officials at Agonda, range forest officer (wildlife) Anant Velip said. The alert forest staff stationed at the Turtle Interpretation Centre at Agonda beach, were constantly on a look out for any new turtle eggs, and soon shifted them to a guarded enclosure for hatching. Velip said the turtles prefer Agonda beach over Galgibaga, which was once the main beach in Canacona for turtle nesting. It was here that turtle eggs began to be protected since 1999 under the alert leadership of the then parish priest of Galgibaga church, Fr Mariano Goes e Proenca. Last season, the first turtle had appeared at Agonda on January 7 and had laid 127 eggs, and within the next 32 days, as many as 13 Olive Ridley turtles visited Agonda beach past midnight to lay their eggs. In the last season, Agonda beach witnessed 35 turtle pits, which has been the centre’s best season. Its earlier high was 19 turtle nests during 2017-18. Galgibaga was in the limelight with its first turtle nest preserved on December 23, last season. Some fishermen from Agonda told TOI that since tourist activities are projected to be on a low this year, it will give the turtles a better opportunity to lay their eggs.
PANAJI/POINGUINIM: An early morning flippered tourist sparked off some excitement at Morjim beach after it laid 130 eggs and kicked off the nesting season for Olive Ridley turtles on the back of a productive season last year. The beach on the mouth of River Chapora and Mandrem in Pernem, and Agonda and Galgibaga in Canacona taluka are four turtle nesting sites designated under coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification 2011. “This is the first nesting of the season. Our staff and forest guards who keep a watch on the beach noticed the turtle around 1.30am,” range forest officer (RFO) John Fernandes said. Goa’s modest turtle conservation programme was pioneered on Morjim beach in late 1990s, followed by Galgibaga, though the entire coast was open to the flippered visitors before tourism activities pushed them to isolated spaces. Around 30 to 40 nests are laid during the season, unlike the Odisha coast where mass nesting in thousands takes place. Forest staff keep vigil over the nests round-the-clock to protect them from stray dogs and poachers. Bright lights, noisy music and other tourism activities affect nesting activity. On the two beaches in the north, a total of 24 nests were laid and more than 1,700 hatchlings were released into the sea. “Last season was one of the most productive one in recent years,” a source said. Meanwhile the nesting season in Galgibaga and Agonda seems to have been delayed a bit. Nesting season in the past used to start in October though in the recent years, it has shifted to December-January and ends in March-April. This change in the start of the nesting season is attributed to climate change, RFO (wildlife) Anant Velip said, adding that the incubation period takes between 48 to 52 days. The first Olive Ridley turtle nesting was witnessed last year on December 23 with the forest department officials protecting eggs at Galgibaga beach but it was just a fortnight later that Agonda beach also witnessed the first Olive Ridley turtle nesting. A total of 22 Olive Ridleys visited the twin turtle nesting beaches of Agonda and Galgibaga last year laying a total of 2,278 eggs. The Goa coastal zone management authority (GCZMA) in the first week of November ordered the removal of a temporary swimming pool on Agonda beach.