Bhubaneswar: Thousands of Olive Ridley turtles crawled ashore from the Bay of Bengal Monday, after a month`s delay, at the Rushikulya beach in Orissa`s Ganjam district to lay their eggs, an official said.
Rushikulya beach, about 175 km from here, is one of the three mass nesting sites in the state. Turtle lovers and experts were worried, since mass nesting had occurred here Feb 14 last year.
"More than three thousand turtles climbed ashore today for mass nesting," Divisional Forest Officer AK Jena said.
"The turtles began mass nesting at around 1.00 a.m. and continued during the early hours," Biswajit Mohanty, coordinator of the turtle conservation group Operation Kachhapa, said from the site.
"Hundreds of female turtles were seen digging pits to lay their eggs," he said. "Due to late nesting, most eggs are expected to be lost as beach erosion takes place in the summer."
"High waves and fierce winds are expected to destroy the nesting beaches exposing the eggs to water, leading to loss of lakhs of eggs," Mohanty said.
"If nesting would have taken place by the first fortnight of February, the beach would not have been eroded before hatching leading to survival of more eggs," he said.
"Several irreversible threats also now loom over the sea turtles in the state, including ports, oil terminals and offshore oil drilling," he said.
"The expansion of the Gopalpur port into a large port may lead to beach erosion at Rushikulya and loss of nesting grounds in the future, unless mitigation measures are adopted," Mohanty warned.
The two other nesting sites in the state are along the Nasi Islands in Gahirmatha in the district of Kendrapada and the Devi river mouth in Puri.
While mass nesting started in the Nasi Islands last month it has not yet started at the Devi river mouth.