Hawkesbay and Sandspit are among the 11 most important beaches around the globe where marine turtles come to lay eggs. — File Photo

KARACHI Hawkesbay and Sandspit beaches turn into hatcheries for marine turtles when weather conditions relent in September and remain so well into December, before it is too cold for them at night, their laying time, to venture out of water. Although occasional laying continues throughout the year, the mild weather months are considered the peak season for the activity, when what are called Green Turtles come ashore in droves.

The city's sandy beaches - Hawkesbay and Sandspit - are among the 11 such most important beaches around the globe where marine turtles come to lay eggs. The nearby rocky beaches, including Cape Monze, provide a variety of aquatic vegetation to the turtles to feed on.

As soon as the sun sinks down the horizon, the green turtles, weighing from 200 to 500 pounds, come out of the sea and dragging themselves past the high-tide mark on the beach, dig up a couple of feet and an equally wide hole to sit in. Later, with the help of hind flippers, they dig about a couple of feet deep cylindrical egg pit.

A turtle in a clutch lays between 100 and 150 eggs in the pit, after which she covers both pits and pulls herself to the sea, leaving the eggs at the mercy of the many predators. The entire exercise of coming out of the sea, digging pits, laying eggs, covering the pits and returning to the sea takes three to five hours.A turtle lays eggs three times, at an interval of around two to four weeks, in a season after which it takes a break of up to five years.These turtles face extinction as only one of 1,000 eggs survives into an adult turtle.

Stray dogs roaming around the beaches are the greatest threat to the eggs. As soon as layers return to the sea, the dogs remove the sand from the pits and gobble the eggs. If the eggs survive stray dogs for the six to eight weeks of hatching period, the hatchlings move out of the pits, and begin their journey to the sea. But aquatic birds pounce on them and eat them up.Those who make to the sea, fall prey to crabs, fish and other larger aquatic creatures.

The high rate of mortality drops after their first birth anniversary, after which the shell grows harder, and a turtle become adult. It completes its normal life cycle of around 100 years, unless it is killed in an accident or drowns after being caught in a fishing net. Turtles cannot breathe under water and have to come to the surface after every few minutes.

To improve their poor survival rate, the marine turtles have not only been protected under the Sindh Wildlife Protection Act, but have also been conserved at the Sandspit for over a quarter of a century by the Sindh Wildlife Department.

Opinion

Editorial

02 Dec 2021

Funding for polls

THE PTI government’s autocratic mentality is again on full display, even as it feigns adherence to the law....
02 Dec 2021

Soaring prices

PRICES are surging. And they are increasing at a much faster pace than anticipated, burdening millions of...
Ali Wazir’s bail
Updated 02 Dec 2021

Ali Wazir’s bail

IT has been a long time coming, but MNA and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement leader Ali Wazir has finally been granted bail...
Covid funds controversy
Updated 01 Dec 2021

Covid funds controversy

A COMPREHENSIVE and detailed report by the auditor general of Pakistan on the utilisation of Covid-19 funds by the...
01 Dec 2021

Sindh LG law

THE Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, introduced by the PPP to roll back the Musharraf-era local bodies system in ...
Monster of circular debt
Updated 01 Dec 2021

Monster of circular debt

The crisis facing the energy sector cannot be tackled sustainably without taming the many elephants in the room.