The Goa Sea Turtle Festival, which is an annual awareness programme to commemorate the start of the annual olive ridley nesting season in Goa, is happening between December and March.
The festival is curated by experts in different domains linked to conservation in Goa. The festival will see various events in north and south Goa, themed around sea turtles and ocean life.
The festival endeavours to highlight and tackle the issue of ocean pollution as a result of unsustainable tourism habits and for creating a new framework for planet-friendly consumption
On December 9, 2022, a coastal trail is planned at Morjim-Chapora to watch sea birds, intertidal marine wildlife and understand different geo-morphologies of sand dunes, mangroves and rocky shores.
On December 10, an event, 'Workshop and Group Tasting: Responsible consumption for ocean and human health' at Edrica Farms in Siolim, will try to inspire individuals to re-think their consumption choices and encourage organic, responsible consumption. The workshop will focus on ocean life and human health.
In Goa, the peak tourism season coincides with the olive ridley turtle nesting season, which makes it all the more important to ensure that people and other stakeholders see that nesting sites are left untouched.
Project Lead for Goa Sea Turtle Festival, Sarita Fernandes, said, "Goa and Goans should feel privileged that turtles choose the State's beaches to come and nest."
Morjim, Mandrem, Galgibaga and Agonda are the four beaches where the olive ridleys come to lay their eggs and these sites are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Sarita informed that the nesting season of olive ridleys begins in October and ends in April when tourists come to Goa in droves. The hatchlings venture into the sea in May, she added.
"Many of the female olive ridleys who go out to sea as hatchlings come back to the same beach for nesting after several years. This festival, the second one, is being held to welcome these female turtles. It is like a homecoming for them," she added.
Sarita informed, "Last year, 12 olive ridleys came to nest at Morjim, 18 in Agonda, 4 in Galgibaga and 2 in Mandrem. Goa is a small state and having these many olive ridleys coming here is a big achievement for us."
She said turtles are one of the predators that feast on jellyfish. One of the reasons for jellyfish blooming in Goan waters could be the dwindling population of sea turtles.
Sarita said turtles enjoy the same status as tigers under the Wildlife Protection Act, so one must realise how important the turtles are.