A tiny, bleak beachfront village at the mouth of the Chapora River, Morjim is the destination of choice for long-staying Russians, many of whom rent whole houses and settle in for the season. It’s worth a visit to brush up on your Cyrillic, paddle á la Black Sea, wander the riverbanks and admire the views of Chapora Fort on the opposite side, and perhaps glimpse endangered Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings, who emerge from their eggs here (in sadly ever-decreasing numbers; see left) between October and March.
Morjim Beach is a nesting and hatching habitat of the Olive ridley sea turtle, an endangered species. They are afforded the highest degree of protection under Indian law through their inclusion in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Egg-poaching or in any manner disturbing the turtles or their habitat is an offence punishable under Indian law.
Protection of marine turtles and their habitat has been embraced by the local community through community-based conservation efforts. These efforts were begun between 1995 and 1996 by a number of local villagers after discussions with Goa-based environmental protection groups. Before this time, the eggs were poached by fishermen, but later the fishermen became fiercely protective of marine turtles.
The Goa Forest Department supports the turtle conservation efforts and has set up a Turtle Conservation Interpretation Centre at the Forest Office in Pernem using funds allotted by the Central Government of India. The Forest Department pays a monthly stipend to young, local volunteers involved in marine turtle conservation efforts in Morjim. A few of these volunteers have found jobs with the Forest Department in recognition of their efforts. Some youth of Morjim have campaigned internationally on the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.
The Tourism Department of the Government of Goa has aided the conservation efforts by restricting temporary seasonal structures (e.g. shacks) to a portion of the beach and requiring them to operate only during daylight hours. Owners of the structures are also legally obliged not to leave beach furniture on the beach after daylight hours and not to do anything that would adversely affect marine turtle conservation.Despite the ban, an Indian fashion show with illumination and music was held well into the night on 10 December 2011, flouting the law and outraging environmentalists and locals.
In 2011 the turtles can hardly be seen because of urbanisation, light pollution and noise pollution. According to a recent study of international researchers Morjim's wildlife is doomed and the village is expected to be the next Calangute.