Berhampur: Several carcasses of Olive Ridley turtles were washed ashore near the mouth of river Rushikulya off Odisha`s Ganjam coast, a major mass nesting site of these endangered species.
Forest officials have recovered over 150 dead turtles from different places in the coastal areas in Ganjam district during the last one month.
Forest officials, however, said the mortality of the turtles as not very alarming.
"Most of the carcasses were found decomposed. We suspect these were washed ashore to Ganjam coast from Astaranga areas in Puri district, where a number of turtles were found dead recently, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Berhampur, S S Mishra said on Wednesday.
While some of the turtles faced natural deaths, others died due to some other reasons in the deep sea, said another senior officer.
Wildlife activists, however, said more turtles have died than the official claim. "Due to lack of strict patrolling and wanton fishing by the trawlers the endangered marine creatures died", Biswajit Mohanty, an activist said.
He claimed that over 4000 carcasses were washed ashore off Odisha cost in the last one month. Majority of them were found between Astaranga and Konark in Puri district.
"We have demanded deployment of speed boat for patrolling since last several years. I don`t understand why the forest department ignores it and hires fishing boats for patrolling," Mohanty said.
"Since several pairs of the endangered marine species have been sighted inside the sea, surveillance measures have been tightened in the coastal area in order to provide congenial atmosphere to them", forest officials said.
The forest personnel along with local volunteers have been guarding the mating turtles in the Bay of Bengal, while the Coast Guards have been looking after their safety.
The government has also imposed ban on fishing in around 170-km long costal area in the state from November 1 to May 31 from 5 to 10 km away from the shore to protect the turtles.
Millions of Olive Ridley turtles come ashore between Kantiagada and Gokaharakuda beach near Rushikulya mouth during February for mass nesting every year. It is considered as the second major mass nesting site for the Olive Ridley after Gahiramatha in Kendrapara district. Besides Gahiramatha and Rushikulya mouth, Devi river mouth is also another place for mass nesting of turtles.