An Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. Photo Credit Shutterstock
An Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. Photo Credit Shutterstock

Spotting The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in India

On the 23rd World Turtle Day, here are the best tourist places in India to witness the reticent reptile in its natural habitats

Turtles are among the few creatures who outlived dinosaurs on Earth and have remained unchanged for over 110 million years. Sentient, slow and ever so charming in their shell-clad reticence, turtles worldwide are being &ldquoShellebrated,&rdquo as the American Turtle Rescue playfully terms it, on the 23rd International World Turtle Day on May 23. In India, the famous Olive Ridley Turtles show up along various coasts and shores along the country&rsquos coastal areas between November and May. On this occasion, here are some tourist places where you can see these elusive reptiles in their natural habitats in India.  

Gahirmatha Beach, Odisha

Gahirmatha Beach in Odisha, close to the mouth of the Brahmani-Baitarani (Dhamra) River, is the largest mass nesting site for the olive ridley turtles in India, as discovered in 1974. The beach is now absorbed as part of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, surrounded by mangrove forests. It is the best place in India to spot Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, the only turtle sanctuary in Odisha, is also a very popular tourist attraction of Odisha, located in Bhitarkanika Mangroves and, apart from the Olive Ridley Turtles, houses the Indian python, King cobra, Saltwater crocodile and the Water Monitor. 

Neelangarai to Besant Nagar Beach, Chennai

Take a turtle walk with The Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) from Nelangarai Beach to Besant Nagar Beach and witness Olive Ridley hatchlings. A voluntary group, SSTCN features students and young adults who have been working on the beaches of Chennai since 1987, trying to conserve and create awareness about the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle, which nests on these beaches at night between January and April.

SSTCN conducts these walks along with Chennai Wildlife Division staff, which can be registered for by sending an email to sstcnchennai@gmail.com.

Versova and Tarkarli Beaches, Maharashtra

Recent names in the list of nesting grounds preferred by the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, these two beaches have been seen to become sporadic and unexpected places where the hatchlings have been observed. In 2018, it was reported that Olive Ridley turtles hatched at Versova Beach for the first time in over twenty years. Similarly, a large nesting ground was recorded in 2022 at Tarkali Beach in Maharashtra, which was earlier famous only for the water adventure sports popular there. As such, Maharashtra has recently become one of the lesser crowded places to spot the Olive Ridley turtles.

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