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THE TURTLE WALKER A film by Taira Malaney and Krish Makhija

About the Film

Satish Bhaskar, “Mr. Sea Turtle”, walks nearly 2/3rds of India’s coastline, in search of the elusive creature. His pioneering work involves extraordinary solo adventures, marooned on wild islands. With nothing but Sea Turtles for company, he begins to uncover their mysterious behavior. It is on one such survey of the Andaman islands in 1988 that he sees the giant ancient Leatherback, the first proof of their existence in India. However, he is hit by a painful nerve condition and forced to retire.

A few years later, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami strikes, wreaking havoc across the islands. Entire beaches disappear, inundated with water. At first, no one knows what has happened to the nesting beaches. Until a team of researchers led by Adhith Swaminathan, starts following Satish’s footsteps to find out if the leatherbacks are returning to nest in the islands.

When 73 year old Satish hears about this, he can’t wait to see for himself. He grabs the opportunity and returns to the islands for one last adventure. He surveys South Reef, an island close to his heart that is favored by Hawksbills. Yet, landing proves to be all but impossible. What was once a smooth sandy beach is now surrounded by exposed coral reefs, uprooted trees and debris all around. Nonetheless, Satish slips on his fins, jumps into the ocean and swims across to the island. A rapid survey reveals nothing – no turtle tracks, no nests. It is not the same island he left. Exhausted and hogtied, he returns home.

But then he meets Adhith, who’s research reveals astounding results: the beaches on many islands are reforming. Is there hope for these millennia-old creatures after all?

Satish Bhaskar handles a green turtle. Photographed by herpetologist Rom Whitaker at the Madras Croc Bank, circa 1979

Def: Turtle Walker

A turtle walker travels across long distances of wild and uncertain coastlines on foot, in the hopes of spotting a turtle. They often embark on these strenuous walks with very little guarantee of reward. Yet their zeal for discovery is what allows them to thrive in their search for these creatures. It is this passion that binds together the stories of turtle walkers across generations.

Awards and Accolades

The Turtle Walker team is beyond grateful for all the support, guidance, and recognition we have received thus far. As emerging filmmakers, the mentorship we have received from these individuals and institutions across the world has been instrumental in creating the story of The Turtle Walker. The film would not be possible without their continued support.

“The hope of seeing a turtle is what keeps me going.” – Satish Bhaskar

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