1.8 lakh Olive Ridleys arrive on Orissa beach for nesting

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - 20:13

Kendrapara (Orissa): An estimated 1.8 lakh
female Olive Ridley turtles have so far arrived en-masse
to lay eggs, a unique natural phenomenon, at Gahirmatha marine
sanctuary in Kendrapara district, officials said.

Since February 24 night the tranquil beaches on south
eastern part of Nasi-2 island, close to Defence Research
Development Organisation`s installation at the Wheeler`s
Island, are teeming with turtles, Prasanna Kumar Behera,
Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) forest
division, said.

"The Olive Ridleys are literally invading the beach
and are digging 2-3 feet deep pits to lay eggs. They covered
the pits with sand after laying the eggs and loitered in the
area for an hour or two before disappearing into the waves,"
he said.

"With thousands of the turtles digging the pits at the
same time, it created a soothing cacophony", a forest official
present at the site, said.

Mass nesting of these turtle speci at Gahirmatha is an
annual phenomenon known as `arribada` in Spanish. Gahirmatha
is said to be the world`s biggest nesting ground for these
turtles.

The turtles` sojourn in idyllic environs is a virtual
treat to watch, said forest officials.

With DRDO prohibiting entry of visitors to the area,
only a handful of forest personnel on turtle protection duty
were witness to this unique happening.

Last year 1.7 lakh turtles had turned up for the mass
nesting , while they had given the beach a miss in 2008, much
to the shock of the conservationists. The break-up of
`arribada` figures in the preceding years is 75,000 (2003),
2.38 lakh (2004), 2.38 lakh (2005), 2.74 lakh (2006) and 1.47
lakh (2007).

The mass arrivals would continue for at least two more
days, Behera said adding about 50 forest personnel have been
deployed on the beach to maintain vigil on the mass nesting
and to protect the turtles from predators like wild dogs.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - 20:13

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