The first Marine Turtle Research,Conservation and Information Centre in Maharashtra was inaugurated at Velas in Ratnagiri which is six hours drive from Mumbai on Saturday. The research centre is the culmination of two years of research on marine turtles,especially the endangered Olive Ridleys that visit the region,by a local NGO,Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra,with the help of the Centre for Environment Education and the Central forest department,besides the villagers of Velas.
The centre will document information collected during this study,part of a short-term project initiated by the UNDP.
Velas,a small beach village with a population of 800,is a haven for the endangered Olive Ridleys that congregate on the beach to nest every year. Bhau Katdhare of the NGO,who has been studying the turtle habitat for seven years now,began his formal research for UNDP in 2007. The NGO has so far recorded 212 nests,which were protected,and 8,975 hatchlings that were released into the sea between 2007 and 2009.
Katdhare said,In two years,we collected vast data on five species,four of which visit the Indian waters. Our centre will keep detailed information on all them,the Leatherback,Olive Ridley,Hawkbill,Green and Loggerhead turtles.
Katdhare said a lot of work had been initiated on marine turtles on the states shores recently,mostly depending on observations by locals and information given by them. At this centre,newer scientific studies will be launched to determine nest temperature,hatching,incubation period,climatic conditions and release of hatchlings. Basic data like weight,size and breeding period will also be stored. Indian and foreign tourists visit Velas during the turtle breeding season every year. Kathdhare said the centre would provide free information to tourists.
The information will also be on their official website,www.snmcpn.org.