Chennai decided to get its hand dirty this weekend for a cause, thus clearing around six tonnes of trash from two of its beaches- Marina and Elliot, to start of the preparations to welcome the endangered Olive Ridley turtles who have begun their annual return to the coast for laying eggs.
“The beach inspite of being cleaned regularly is full of garbage and hence like every year we selected two sites that witnesses maximum nesting sites, which is thoroughly cleaned up of all the trash. While on Saturday we cleaned one kilometer stretch at Marina on Sunday similar activity took place on the Elliot beach,” said Shravan Krishnan, animal activist and volunteer of Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) that set up its first hatchery, in December 1988 and has been involved in turtle monitoring, hatchery management as well as conducting awareness.
SSTCN that organised the clean up of the beaches along with Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) and other NGO’s was joined by over 250 volunteers on Saturday at the Marina beach while on Sunday around 300 people joined for cleaning up of Elliot beach. While the cleaning of one kilometre stretch yielded two tonnes of garbage at Marina, a one and a half kilometer stretch at Elliot was cleared off around four tonnes of trash and at both places all kinds of wastes like alcohol bottles, plastic, footwear, and huge quantities of plastic and styrofoam were found.
Infact according to volunteers working on turtle conservation in Chennai few areas on the beaches have already begun witnessing female turtles returning to lay their eggs and the number will only go up in coming weeks with February being the most peak season.
“Female turtles return to the beach every year to lay their eggs however the hatchlings face two major problem one is from huge mounds of garbage in which they at times even get stuck and die while the second is from the lights- as they follow moonlight to head to the sea but due to lights put up all across they loose their direction moving away from the sea,” said Krishnan who added that SSTCN has been working actively in resolving both the issues.