The Olive Ridley turtle's egg-laying and hatching season runs from January to April every year. A conservation group collects a lot of eggs and protects them till they hatch. When they hatch, the baby turtles are released into the ocean. Anyone can go and watch the release. Its a wonderful experience. Better than anything on Animal Planet or Discovery!!
We took our two kids there on a Friday evening around 5 PM and all of us had an amazing experience as almost a hundred baby turtles went into the ocean. My kids were even able to hold the baby turtles in their hands. It was truly unforgettable.
See more pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/vamsham/tags/turtles/
There are conservation efforts underway to try and protect what is left of the turtles and their environments. One of the groups working on this (Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network), collects the turtle eggs and brings them to hatch near Chennai's Besant Nagar beach. The turtle eggs are buried in the beach in an enclosure, each batch separately based on the date of collection (so I was told). As each batch hatches, the baby turtles emerge from the eggs and are released back into the ocean.
Where to go
Go on the road to the left of the beach at Besant Nagar, and drive through the fishermen's village. The road is not well laid, and is a mud track through the village and beyond. Drive a couple of hundred meters and you will see an enclosure on your right, near the ocean. Park and go to the enclosure on foot.
When to go
February to early April is a good time to go.
The turtles are released usually early in the morning or around 5 PM in the evenings. You may have to have to go back once or twice in case you miss them or they are not ready to hatch.
The Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network organizes a turtle walk at night, to collect the eggs laid by the turtles and then takes care of them till they hatch. Since the walk is late at night, it did not suit my little kids and we did not go. Details are on their site.
Things to remember
The enclosure is near the place where the Adyar river meets the Indian ocean. There is a footbridge across the Adyar, about 20 metres down the road from the turtle enclosure. After watching the turtle release, we walked over to the bridge. We were told by some college kids there, not to stay too long as there is some risk of petty crime when it becomes dark.