Kozhikode: The sleepy coastal hamlet of Kolavipalam in this district of Kerala has turned out to be a safe breeding ground for the highly endangered marine turtles that are struggling hard to survive the hostile environment to protect their depleting species.
As many as 831 Olive Ridley hatchlings, hatched at a palmgrove here, were released into the sea recently by a group of nature lovers, who have turned out to be saviours of the endangered species by collecting the eggs and keeping them in a hatchery.
The members of the `Theeram Nature Conservation Society` collected over 1,200 eggs laid by 11 turtles in the area during the nesting season, spanning from September to March.
Another 128 eggs are still in the hatchery built on a 2.5 cent land by the society.
The hatchlings, that take 47 to 60 days to hatch, set out to sea either in the early morning or late evening, M T Suresh Babu, society President, said.
"The one inch long hatchlings weighing just 30 grams crawl towards the sea, whichever direction you lay them", he said.
The turtles that seek an undisturbed and quiet coast to lay eggs, turn up to the 8 KM long stretch from Kottapuzha estuary to Kodikkam beach between September and March,he said.
Distressed at the plight of the turtles which often fall prey to foxes, mongoose and the locals, who once used to take away the eggs, the society came into being in 1998 with support from the Forest Department.