The Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network [SSTCN] is a voluntary group, mainly comprising students who have been working in the beaches of Chennai since 1987, trying to conserve and create awareness about the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle [Lepidochelys Olivacea].
What We Do
The Olive Ridley turtles nest on our beaches at night, between December and April every year. During this season we walk the beaches every night looking for their eggs which we collect and relocate to a safe place. When the turtle hatchlings emerge 45 days later, we release them safely into the sea. On Friday nights and Saturday nights we conduct a walk for interested people. We use this opportunity to interact with them, and create awareness about the plight of an endangered species and the state of the environment. From January to March end, our work mainly comprises of walking on the beach looking for turtle eggs and we often encounter nesting turtles. It is a beautiful experience to watch them lay eggs, as it is an age old process which they have been doing for more than a 100 million years!!!
Why We Do What We Do
While we are happy to help the turtle in whichever manner we can, it is indeed sad that we have to help a creature which has survived millions of years on its own. In recent times, our technological advances have increased the threat to these animals, and all seven species of sea turtles are critically endangered. It is therefore important that we interfere and save as many as we can, while they are still around.
Details Of The Walk
We walk seven kilometres from Neelangarai to Besant Nagar beach. We gather at Neelangarai beach at around 11pm. There is a discussion about turtles and other environmental issues and the walk starts after that. The walk may go on till 4am or 5am depending on whether we find any nests, and how many we find. To get to Neelangarai beach you have to take the turning off ECR next to Shanthi hospital. There is an arch over the road that says Kapaleeswarar Nagar. You will need to leave your vehicles [if any] at the Elliots beach end to return home after the walk.