What the heck is Turtle Festival?

Very much like me, you must be thinking, what exactly happens in it? If you are of an inquisitive nature, you would like to look upon it right away. So wait there, WHILE I take your little while to tell you all about it.

Journey from Panvel to Ratnagiri, where we were to attend the Turtle Festival, was quite eventful, 4 hours of the bike ride, visiting one of the historical forts of the Maharatha times & plucking raw mangoes & so much more.  Vellas is a village having several beaches with white sand & innumerable coconut trees forming the canopy on the narrow lanes of the village.

Read full story here: Turtle Festival Part 1 – Bike ride to Ratnagiri

Turtle Festival in one glimpse

In the Konkan areas, turtles are highly regarded & taken care of. Locals help turtles nest & hatch, in lay-man terms, people at Vellas help turtles lay eggs, they protect their eggs from harsh waves of Arabian sea & after 6 months, when the eggs break, these volunteers help the turtle babies find their home (i.e. sea). They help them exist.

Turtle festival is that time of the year where tourists cum nature lovers & peace makers visit the village of Vellas where Turtles are protected and witness the hatching of turtle eggs.

But wait!

Why are the locals of Konkan coast protecting TURTLES?

Tourist attraction?

Well, that is not the only thing.

Green turtles help maintain the nature balance & play an important role in the human survival.

Here is how

Green turtle chop off weed grass which grows on the sea bed and feed themselves with that. They are so old that they have co-existed with the Dinosaurs. WOAH.

Had they not been there, the layer of weed grass that grows on the sea bed, would grow up to the height of the water surface and cause the water to pour out on the land i.e it will lead to a flood situation.

It was started in the year 2002 by an organisation to protect Olive Ridley (Turtle Species) in Velas, a tiny village on northernmost boundary of district Ratnagiri

In the first year, they managed to protect 50 turtle nests. Within a very short period of time, the protection work spread in 15 villages over a coastline of 720 km. However, over the years, the number of nests that could have been protected reduced.

My Day 2 at Vellas – Leaving you with a picture story

We woke up before the crack of dawn & cackle of hen & rode our bikes to the Vellas beach in the night clothes.

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For a person like me who had never known about the Turtle festival, I was damn curious & excited to see the turtles hatch. No joking, but it was a Sunday morning & around 100 odd visitors woke up & walked themselves to the beach just to see the turtles hatch.

It was like a big herd of crowd waiting for few eggs to break open to the life.

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While we waited, volunteers fed us with a lot of information.

Here it goes – Eggs are laid in the month of November. They hatch in the month of April i.e. 6 months after the nesting. All the records of their dates are maintained by the volunteers. One mommy turtle lays around 100 eggs, out of which only 10% survive. While the mommy turtle lays eggs, volunteers engrave a label on their outer shell marking the date of their nesting. Once eggs are laid by the mommy turtle, they measure the dept of the hole digged by mommy turtle & bring the eggs further from the sea to protect them from the waves. Then they dig the hole of the same dept & lay the eggs their. They make sure that the eggs are safe & warm.

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This is how eggs are kept in the protected area with the labels having their nesting date & the predicted hatching date.

Going back to my second day journey at the vellas

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We walked to the Vellas beach
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Making our way through the Mangrove protected coastline…
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& the dense forest

We were lucky enough to get to see 12 eggs hatch…

 

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It is said that turtle  baby will always face the sea as if it is born with the knowledge that sea is their home. Also, it is said that they inherently know how to swim, the moment they enter in the water they start to spread their arms & legs.

We returned home sand-struck, filled with contentment & a little more aware about the concept of co-existence.

Village of Turtles
You will be proud to read this, I am sure. We live in a state which contributes in protecting the turtle species.

But wait!

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One mommy turtle lays around 100 eggs, out of which only 10% survive.

 

While you go to the beaches, make sure you carry a waste bag & not leave a single plastic bag on the beach. Plastic serves as a slow poison for the turtles. They feed on it & eventually pass it on to the next generation which result into extinction of species with time.

I know this blog post was loaded with a lot of factual information, but let me tell you, this was one of the most surreal experiences.

You go out there, you see things which might not be important to you on the everyday basis, while you are stuck with your 9-5 job, but trust me, in the bigger picture, it matters.

After being so closer to its nesting & hatching journey, I want to give a damn! So you should.

Lastly a very special thanks to Wandering Soul Riders group, for arranging such a beautiful trip for us!

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Here is their Facebook page – Wandering Soul Riders 

Stay carefree, Stay outrageous

~ The outrageous girl