Chennai is blessed with an abundance of natural wealth. The beaches of Chennai welcome the highly endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles every year, which sadly face the brunt of human negligence. Between January and April every year, the Olive Ridley turtles nest on beaches in and around Chennai every night. During this period, the beaches are patrolled by the Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN), making sure the hatching happens smoothly. Around 45 days after the hatching, the SSTCN organises night walks on the beach to search for the eggs so that they can collect them and relocate them to a safe space. After the baby turtles hatch, they’re then set free back into the sea.
The SSTCN walk happens on a 7 km stretch between the beaches of Neelangarai (on ECR) to Besant Nagar. Participants have to gather at the Neelangarai beach at about 11 pm, from where the walk commences (and it ends at about 4-5 am!). Anyone is free to join and it doesn’t cost a rupee. Before the walks, there’s an engaging discussion, so you can ask questions and learn as much about what to expect and do.
The SSTCN has hatcheries in Besant Nagar and Srinivasapuram if you’re not up for the walk. You could go there and release the hatchlings into the sea. SSTCN has been a constant in protection and awareness to save the turtles. With some volunteers, they could save even more creatures! Whether you are into wildlife or not, this experience of letting the tiny little baby turtles can become one of the most cherished memories of your lifetime!