On Friday morning, Locals and forest officers found several hatched Olive Ridley turtle egg shells at Versova beach after which the Maharashtra forest department confirmed that the beach had, indeed, become a turtle nesting site after two decades.
The confirmation comes a day after approximately 80 hatchlings were spotted swing back and forth into the sea by beach clean-up crusaders, and questions were raised by some naturalists and animal welfare groups about the authenticity of the phenomenon.
N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell said “There is no further cause for doubt about the authenticity of this wonderful event. We can confirm that Versova is a turtle nesting site as we have uncovered the egg shells. It is a truly inspiring discovery. This was missed by people who raised questions about this on Thursday. We probed further and found evidence,”
The hatchlings were spotted around 9.30am by beach clean-up crusader Afroz Shah and his team near Sagar Kutir Wadi on Thursday. Later in the day, however, city-based environmentalists raised doubts after they could not spot any eggshells on the beach and asked the state to verify the authenticity of the phenomenon.
On Thursday, NGO Vanashakti filed a complaint with the state mangrove cell for an inquiry into the event around 10 pm.
As per the state mangrove cell’s on Friday morning, Prashant Deshmukh, range forest officer (western region), along with other officers, dug up a spot to the side of the 3×5 foot deep pit and discovered several broken shells deep beneath the sand. “Twelve eggs had not hatched, and there were another four broken eggs with dead baby turtles in them, samples have been collected for testing 12 eggs have not hatched but the hatchlings are dead, and another four died, ” Deshmukh said.
Week 127 .
Fantastic news for Mumbai .
We got back Olive Ridley Sea Turtle after 20 years. Historic moment
Nested and Hatched at our beach. We facilitate their journey to ocean.
Constant cleaning helps marine species.
— Afroz Shah (@AfrozShah1) March 22, 2018
Olive Ridleys are sea turtles found in the warm, tropical currents of the Indian and Pacific oceans. An endangered species, they travel thousands of kilometres in the ocean, with females returning to their original nesting sites within a minimum of two years to lay eggs.