Madhavpur beach,which made news recently for Tropex-2009 military exercise,has another claim to fame. It is home to a two-decade long conservation project of Green Sea and Olive Ridley turtles: both endangered marine species included in Schedule-1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972.
According to the Forest department,over 10,000 baby turtles have been safely released in the Arabian Sea this year.
Ever since the conservation work began nearly 20 years ago,around 2 lakh baby turtles have been released into the sea.
The beach has a hatchery established by the department where turtle eggs are nested.
The eggs are collected from nests along the 70-km long coastline between Loyeg and Porbander and kept in incubators,in a bid to save them from stray dogs,pigs and jackals.
P H Sata,Deputy Conservator of Forest,Marine National Park,Jamnagar,said,We have posted a group of four experts who patrol the coastline round the clock and locate turtle nests.
The female of the species lays 100 to 125 eggs at a time,after which it returns to the sea,leaving the eggs on natures mercy.
We keep the eggs in incubators for 45 days until they hatch, Sata said.
Of the total baby turtles,Green Sea turtles constitute 85 per cent while the rest 15 per cent are Olive Ridley turtles.
The laying of eggs continues throughout the year; but the peak period is from October to December when a large number of eggs are found on the beach,Sata said.
In a bid to save the turtles,we have carried out a public awareness programme in 20 villages along the coastline. Besides,we have established 10 conservation clubs in which the local youth have been taken in as volunteers. Without support from the locals,the conservation work would not have been successful, Sata added.
Naginbhai Popat is a resident of Madhavpur village and is actively associated with the conservation programme. He said,Turtles have become the identity of Madhavpur beach. We are trying to create awareness among the people for their conservation.