By Aditya Deepak Dhuri
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are the smallest and the most abundant sea turtles found in the world. These turtles are known for their mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs like in coastal Odisha. Though found abundantly their numbers have been declining rapidly over the past few years and the species have been recognized as vulnerable by the IUCN red list.
Morjim beach in Pernem, Goa, is one of the mass nesting sites in India. Commercialization due to migration and unregulated tourism in Morjim has resulted in severe degradation of the coastal ecosystem and is a major threat to these turtles. Wildlife laws are not strictly imposed by the forest department or the village panchayat. Shacks on the beach that operate as restaurants and bars are big disturbances. These shacks are mostly illegal and occupy a big part of the beach. Boards by the forest department lie unnoticed and tourism activity continues in full swing on this beach. The Turtle Information Centre set up by the forest department of Goa is unmanned for most of the time.
The number of Olive Ridley turtle nests at Morjim have gone down from 31 in 2003 to 3 in 2014. This feature highlights the threat of tourism to the turtles.