Turtle Festival - Velas
Velas, situated near Bankot Bay of Ratnagiri, is one of the tranquil villages on the Konkan coast and is the native place of the great diplomat, the late Nana Phadnavis.
The Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are the smallest of the sea turtles and they get their name because of their olive colored shells. Every year they migrate across thousands of kilometers and visit several shores in Western India to lay their eggs, along the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Large scale nesting of these turtles take place along the Konkan sea shore and Velas has always topped the list with the highest number of nests amongst all these villages.
Every year locals and social volunteers collect and relocate the freshly laid turtle eggs to preserve them from becoming prey to birds, small animals, crabs, snakes, etc. Extreme care is taken of these nests till the hatchings are released to the sea. Witnessing a baby turtle finding its way to the sea and starting a journey of life is an unforgettable moment. Usually, from mid January to March is the time when this huge ‘festival’ is celebrated on the shores of Velas and a couple of other villages where the beach stretches.
NGOs named Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra and Kasav Mitra Mandal have taken a huge initiative to conserve these turtles by providing protection to their eggs and by arranging awareness campaigns under the marine turtle conservation project.