sight our nightmare and exhaustion was all quickly forgotten. I could find my
senses quickly absorbing and soaking in the environment around me. We were met
by our homestay host’s mother at the bus-stop. A lean yet visibly strong woman
she looked very young to be (as I would learn only moments after entering the
house) a grandmother of two little brats.
minute walk was through the village and it’s coconut trees and fields. And
after what seemed like a route that may take us sometime to navigate our way
around comfortably with, we reached “home”. The homestays at the village are
facilitated and organized by the Sahyadri
an NGO that has been working since 2006 towards conservation
of the Olive Ridley Turtles along the Konkan coast. About 19 households
the village open their doors to nature enthusiasts who flock this tiny village
every year to witness the hatchlings make their way into the sea.
we were greeted with two cups of hot tea shortly followed by breakfast after
which we decided to walk around the village and discover it a bit. Quaint and
modest by every sense of the word the village was a welcome relief from the
noise, crowd and pollution of the city I was only happy to get away from. Added
bonus was that within the village there is no mobile network connectivity
either. It was early noon already and hence too late for us to go to the turtle
nests. So we’d have to go only in the evening around 6 PM.
against exerting ourselves anymore we decided to head back home after an hour
of roaming around in the hope of an early lunch and an afternoon siesta to make
up for all of the exhaustion.
evening we walked down to the beach which is where the turtle nests were. It was
a good 45 minute walk away. Unfortunately for us there weren’t any hatchlings
that evening. We would learn through our conversations with the organizers that
in comparison to the previous years the number of mother turtles who did come to
the coast to hatch their eggs were quite few. This year there were nine nests –
one of and for each mother (each with anywhere between 150 – 300 eggs each) in
comparison to the 20 odd nests that were there last year. We decided to walk
along the beach and watch the sun set. We would come again the next morning in
the hope of hatchling sightings.
The next day
was a Saturday which is when most of the crowd was expected to turn up. We were
also going to be joined by my two other friends who fortunately had a much much
better driver and hence an extremely decent bus ride. While there was a larger
audience waiting on, we were still out of luck on the sightings front. We’d
have to try our luck in the evening. We decided to spend our day visiting the
nearby beaches of Srivardhan and Harihareshwar and make it in time for our
were much higher as there were more people who travelled from near and far. The
organizers had provided us with some assurance that morning. Hopes were held
high not just by the four of us but the 100+ other people who we found
ourselves surrounded by. But our “stars” here were clearly keen on building on
the anticipation. There would be no hatchlings in sight on the evening of our
Day 2 either!
for sure!” we were told (yet again). Hope wasn’t lost just yet. We decided to
get away from the maddening crowd on the beach by getting on to a nearby
hillock that overlooked the entire sea. That just had to be the best view ever of
a coastline I’ve seen from high above. Back home we had prawns for dinner and
believe me that it was the yummiest preparation I’d had in a while. Thank god
for homestays and authentic home cooked meals. However around us there were
more people as it was the weekend which meant that the quaint and modest
village was suddenly a little too noisy with music blaring from some quarters.
morning was a super-charged one. The energy was crazy. Everyone wanted to know
whether or not we’d be lucky to sight any hatchlings as most would be returning
back to the city by noon and wouldn’t have another chance.
And then in
true Bollywood style high on suspense the cane baskets were moved while the
rest of us waited with bated breaths. Of the three nests, there weren’t any
hatchlings in two. Yeah we did get lucky that Sunday morning when we saw two “turtlets”
no bigger than the size of a wafer finally make an appearance for us. Needless
to say the crowd was crazy excited and in spite being requested to shut off the
flash light of their cameras, it had seemed to fall on deaf ears. The reason
for the request is that because these “turtlets” would now make their way into
the sea they are drawn towards the light of the sun – and the flashlight
confuses them causing them to change the direction of their movement.
But the two
were stars never the less! The excitement didn’t seem to simmer down even after
the two went into the sea. What euphoria!
come this close to witnessing the magic of life – more so of another species.
To think that out of all the eggs that are laid only 40% hatch; of which only
10% survive the big bad sea world. I was yet to truly understand the
significance of ‘survival of the fittest!’
made their way back to the city later that day but I was going to stay on for
another – and no I didn’t get lucky a second time that Sunday evening because
even though the eggs had hatched they hadn’t made it to the top – which is
critical for the development of their flippers.
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