Every other day, I read about animals being harmed for selfies and other selfish pursuits, and it makes me wonder, where did all the good people go?
Well, some of those good people definitely live in Velas, a magical, sleepy little coastal village about 250km from Mumbai.
Why is this place special you ask? The amazing humans of this village have taken it upon themselves to save tiny baby Olive Ridley turtles, which are an endangered species. The residents protect the turtles and safely guide the hatchlings towards the sea. We got to witness four of these tiny ninjas come out of their shells and head towards the water for their first dip.
Watch the video at the end of the post!
Mama turtles come and lay egg nests off the beach and then take off; a few weeks later the babies hatch, smaller than the size of your palm. The eggs and the hatchlings are at threat from wild dogs and even birds, so the villagers have designated full-time workers to patrol the beach. They collect the eggs and place them buried in the sand inside a caged protected area on the beach and look after them for almost 50+ days until they hatch and are ready to find their way towards the sea. These amazing people then help guide these little babies towards the water, their home, until they disappear into the depths.
It's important for the world to know that for every idiot out there who is harming animals there are also stellar human beings who are keeping them from harm's way.
To get support from the government and people from cities, the villagers started the Turtle Hatching Festival where anyone can go observe the little babies hatch from the eggs and be a part of guiding them safely towards the sea. Participating in this festival would not only bring more individual awareness about animal conservation but also help garner further support from the government. In addition, it will bring more livelihood opportunities to the villagers who have created wonderful and very reasonable homestay packages for visitors.
This amazing phenomenon happens every year; it's usually between February and March, but according to the locals, this time since the summer is late, it might extended until April because the turtle eggs need heat to hatch. But I reckon going here anytime is worthwhile.
The place is not difficult to get to at all and instructions to reach there are easily available online; Google maps can direct you straight to Velas beach. I went there with a friend for just for one night because of work commitments but the place is so beautiful that we could have stayed there for a few more days easily.
Velas beach is spectacular to say the least and absolutely clean. It's a really long beach and since we went on a weekday it was absolutely serene with nobody else there but me, my friend and the two villagers who are on full-time turtle duty. Incidentally, Olive Ridley turtles have been choosing this area to lay eggs for more than a decade now but according to the locals the number of nests have decreased over the years, possibly because of pollution in the water from the cities now reaching their shores.
Still, there are about 12 nests that have been found this year and these are going to be hatching all through February, March and even April.
Velas has less than 200 families but they are really delightful people. There are lots of homestays here, ranging from very basic village rooms to proper concrete structures with western toilets; your stay will cost about ₹600-800 with all three meals included. Speaking of which, not only are the people here kind and hospitable, they are also amazing cooks and you will be licking your fingers. The name of the lady who took care of us is Rajyashree; you can call her at +917039167455 to book a stay. Or get in touch with Sameer Padlekar (+918652541817), who is the local coordinator for homestays at the village.
These people are the real heroes of our world, let's make them famous and give them any support they need!
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