Visit these Indian beaches to spot Olive Ridley sea turtles.
Visit these Indian beaches to spot Olive Ridley sea turtles.Biswaranjan Rout

Turtle Time: 7 Indian Beaches Where You Can Spot Olive Ridleys & Their Hatchlings

Olive Ridley turtles are the miniature marvels of the sea turtle world. Their namesake olive-colored carapace, often described as heart-shaped due to its rounded edges, is smooth and glistening. Despite their small size, averaging around two feet in carapace length, they possess powerful flippers that propel them gracefully through the water. Their faces are typically a light greenish-gray, and unlike some other sea turtles, they only have one or two claws on each flipper. They are known to grace India’s coasts with their presence and witnessing them give birth is a true marvel - thousands of olive ridleys emerge together under the cloak of night to lay their eggs in the sand. Mumbaikars were distraught when for 20 years these magnificent creatures did not grace their shores up until 2018 when they returned from dormancy much to everyone’s delight.

Visit these Indian beaches to spot Olive Ridley sea turtles.
For the First Time In 20 Years, Olive Ridley Turtles Hatch on Versova Beach

Today we shall explore various beaches in India where you can spot Olive Ridley sea turtles. Also, April and May are the best months to spot them as this is the time of the year the turtle hatchlings begin to come out:

1. Versova and Tarkarli Beaches, Maharashtra

An olive ridley turtle spooted on Versova Beach
An olive ridley turtle spooted on Versova BeachShutterstock

Traditionally overlooked by Olive Ridley turtles for nesting, two Indian beaches have recently become surprise hatchling havens.  In 2018, Versova Beach, known more for its environmental cleanup efforts, witnessed the first Ridley hatchlings in over two decades.  Similarly, Tarkali Beach in Maharashtra, previously bustling with water sports enthusiasts,  surprised everyone in 2022 with a large nesting ground.  This unexpected development has made Maharashtra a new destination, offering a less crowded chance to encounter these fascinating creatures.

2. Velas Beach, Maharashtra

The Velas Turtle Festival on Velas Beach
The Velas Turtle Festival on Velas BeachTravel and Leisure Asia

Setting itself apart as one of the few places on the western coast of India, Velas Beach in Ratnagiri district offers a rare glimpse into the nesting rituals of sea turtles. Unlike most nesting sites concentrated in the east, Velas Beach welcomes these fascinating creatures, making it a standout destination for turtle conservation. Located roughly halfway between Mumbai and Pune (approximately 200 km from Mumbai and 176 km from Pune), the beach thrives on the passionate involvement of local communities who actively work to protect these marine marvels.

3. Gahirmatha Beach in Odisha

Olive Ridley turtles on Gahirmatha Beach
Olive Ridley turtles on Gahirmatha BeachTribune India

Cradled near the mouth of the Brahmani-Baitarani (Dhamra) River, the Gahirmatha Beach reigns supreme as India's most important nesting ground for olive ridley turtles. This title was bestowed upon the beach in 1974. Enveloped by lush mangrove forests, Gahirmatha offers the prime spot in India to witness these captivating creatures. This is where the crown jewel of Odisha's wildlife tourism scene, the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, the state's sole sanctuary dedicated to turtles, is also located. Nestled within the Bhitarkanika Mangroves, this haven not only shelters the olive ridley turtles but also boasts an impressive array of other reptiles, including the Indian python, the king cobra, the saltwater crocodile, and the water monitor lizard.

4. Rushikulya Beach in Odisha

Olive Ridley sea turtles on Rushikulya Beach in Odisha
Olive Ridley sea turtles on Rushikulya Beach in OdishaAr Shakti Nanda

There’s one more beach in Odisha famous for housing these regal creatures. Each year Rushikulya Beach in Odisha transforms into a critical nesting ground for Olive Ridley sea turtles. Nestled within the Ganjam district, this beach attracts these captivating creatures in staggering numbers, solidifying its place as one of the world's most significant mass nesting sites for the species.

5. Marina Beach, Tamil Nadu

An Olive Ridley turtle spotted on the Marina Beach, Tamil Nadu
An Olive Ridley turtle spotted on the Marina Beach, Tamil NaduPeter Van Geit

Bucking the trend of singular nesting grounds, Marina Beach in Chennai presents a unique case. Here, multiple spots along this famed stretch of sand have become vital nesting sites for Olive Ridley turtles. Recognizing this potential, dedicated organizations have stepped up, undertaking the commendable task of cleaning the beach to ensure its safety for these remarkable creatures.

6. Galgibaga, Goa

An Olive Ridley turtle spotted on the Galgibaga beach
An Olive Ridley turtle spotted on the Galgibaga beachHerald Goa

Goa boasts a hidden gem for turtle enthusiasts - Galgibaga Beach. From October to March, this idyllic stretch of sand transforms into a haven for nesting Olive Ridley turtles. Here, under the watchful protection of conservation efforts, the turtles lay their eggs. By April's end and into May, the magic unfolds as the eggs hatch and the tiny hatchlings embark on their journey towards the sea.  While Galgibaga shines as a protected sanctuary, Goa offers more! Look out for nesting sites at Mandrem, Morjim, and Agonda beaches as well.

7. Neelangarai to Besant Nagar Beach, Chennai

Olive Ridley turtles on Besant Nagar Beach
Olive Ridley turtles on Besant Nagar BeachIANS

Embark on a nighttime adventure with the Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) and witness the awe-inspiring phenomenon of Olive Ridley hatchlings emerging from the sand. This dedicated student-led group, established in 1987, has tirelessly patrolled the Chennai coastline for decades. Their mission is to protect and raise awareness about the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles that nest on these very beaches between January and April. Join the SSTCN on their walk from Neelangarai Beach to Besant Nagar Beach, and play a part in safeguarding these magnificent creatures.

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