The Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation of Maharashtra, an autonomous body that assists the state government in coastal marine conservation, will undertake satellite tagging of Olive Ridley turtles that visit the state coast for nesting. The governing body of the foundation, chaired by state Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod, approved Rs 9.87 lakh for the 14-month-long project at a meeting on Tuesday.
The first-of-its-kind study on the west coast will provide insights into the turtles’ migratory patterns and routes, their behaviour at sea, where their marine habitats are located and how turtles use the different habitats. The project will be being carried out by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) researchers.
The Mangrove Foundation has also commissioned a research study of the incubation temperature of the nesting population of Olive Ridley turtles.
Other than Olive Ridley, three other species of sea turtles — Hawksbill, Leatherback and Green — are found in Maharashtra. However, Olive Ridley is the only species that nests along the coast of Maharashtra. Nesting by the other three species is presently not recorded along the state’s coastline.
A 2013 study, which surveyed 118 sandy beaches across Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts, had found around 818 nests between November 2002 and May 2012, It noted that around 33,080 hatchlings were released into the sea.
A budget of Rs 21 crore has been set aside by the foundation for coastal and marine biodiversity conservation measures, management of marine animals stranding, and research projects among others for the 2020-21 financial year.
Some of the major projects approved include research projects on the study of dolphin populations in Sindhudurg, deployment of 183 guards of the Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) for the protection of mangroves in Mumbai Suburban and Thane districts. Since 2017, the guards from the MSSC have been patrolling mangrove areas which are susceptible to encroachment.
Other projects approved in Tuesday’s meeting include a Rs 10-crore ‘Giants of the Seas’ museum at Airoli which will feature real skeletons and life-size models of giant sea animals like whales, sharks, dolphins. Another Rs 12 crore was approved for the multi-species hatchery in Vengurla in Sindhudurg.
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