Konkan Velas Turtle Festival is an annual affair that is a unique occasion to adore nature and the beautiful turtles taking baby steps towards the sea. Velas is a small village in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, located 220 kms away from Mumbai nearby the coast of Arabian Sea. Every year, people from far off places visit this eco-village to enjoy the sight of Olive Ridley Turtles making their way to the sea.
This is an endangered species of the turtles threatened by dogs, big animals, and even humans. A decade ago, an NGO named Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra and the committee named Kasav Mitra Mandal came together to conserve the species by protecting their eggs during hatching.
Every year in February and March, the eggs of these turtles, about the size of a ping-pong ball, are collected and incubated in a hatchery on the beach by the locals. Each clutch is marked by its due date and is left for natural incubation.
This year, the first batch will be entertained on March 10 & 11. Afterward, there are batched scheduled for 17th & 18th March followed by another one on 24th & 25th March. Furthermore, there will be three more matches for dates- 31st March & 1st April, 7th & 8th April, and 14th & 15th April.
Mainly the species spotted at the sight is Olive Ridley but other species like Green Turtle, Hawksbill, and Leatherback are also spotted. It’s not just beautiful but also intriguing to watch so many tiny heads coming out of the cocoon and taking baby steps toward the sea, feeling the fresh air for the first time.
Since hatching is a natural process, the dates of the Velas Turtle Festival are decided as per the incubation but it’s not always guaranteed that one will catch the glimpse of the hatchling. The tourists can also enjoy the scenic beauty at the shores and the adventurous trekking experience. Usually, the sightings can be enjoyed only during early hours of the morning. Nearby places like Harihareshwar temple and Bankot Fort are also visited by the tourists.