It is the simplest of things in nature that mesmerise you at times. Witnessing hatching turtles is one such thing. If that’s something you think would catch your fancy, read on, for we are about to tell you everything about the Velas Turtle Festival. By Kumar Shree


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1. The Village

The Velas beach lines up the coastal village of Velas in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. It also doubles as a nesting site for Olive Ridley Turtles, who sit in the ‘vulnerable’ category of IUCN Red List. It is heartbreaking to know that one of the most treasured species of marine turtles are battling a steep decline in their numbers.

2. Velas Sea Turtles

While we are at it, let us tell you a bit about these fascinating creatures. The Olive Ridley Turtles usually weigh between 50 to 60 kg and grow anywhere to a length of 2 to 3 feet. The olive-green creatures sport a nail on each of their front limbs and have limbs that resemble oars. The female turtles hatch eggs and leave for their homes. When the nesting time comes, they travel back to the beaches where they have hatched at, and start nesting the eggs in a unique technique called arribada. These nested eggs are then placed in conical holes that the mother turtle creates with her rear flippers. These eggs take anywhere between 45 to 65 days to hatch, and then they begin their journey to the ocean.


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3. The Festival

The Velas Turtle Festival is organised every year in March. The Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNM) NGO joins hands with the village for creating awareness and encouraging ecotourism. The NGO also puts in considerable amount of work towards conservation in areas like Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.

4. Points To Remember

Do not touch or pick up the baby turtles under any circumstance. Refrain from using any light or sound at the beach as this may distract the babies from their trek to the ocean and they might lose their way. Inform the local organising committee and/or Forest Department if you come across any injured turtles. Avoid using plastics and strictly do not litter. Do not try to cross the barricade and enter the zone where turtles enter the ocean. Since this is one of the dangerous beaches of Konkan, save that swimming suit for your next trip.

P.S. Only one out of the many babies that make it to the ocean survives to adulthood. Please make sure you do not disturb their process of getting back into the ocean.


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5. Details

Getting There

By Road: State transport buses or even private players can drop you till Dapoli or Mandangad. You’ll have to figure out a local transport from there.

By Rail: Chiplun is the nearest railway station. You can hire a private vehicle from there.

Best Time To Visit: Usually, Velas makes for a popular destination throughout the year, but March and April are the best months.

Stay: Local homestays.

Related: Yangtze Turtles: A Slow Goodbye To The World’s Rarest Turtle