Berhampur (Odisha): Setting aside all speculations, the Olive Ridley sea turtles started their annual mass nesting today near Rushikulya river mouth in Odisha`s Ganjam district.
Over 1000 female Olive Ridley, an endangered species, climbed the shore and laid eggs in the sandy beach, about 50 km from here.
The marine creatures, however, selected the two-km long stretch from Purunabandh to Podampeta this time as suitable place to lay eggs. This new rookery is just near the
traditional rookery of Gokharakuda to Podampeta, which is now submerged.
Wildlife experts had earlier expressed doubt about mass nesting as the four-km long site of the rookery was submerged due to the diversion of the river Rushikulya. The experts are now excited as the turtles started to lay eggs in the new site, just near the traditional rookery.
The mass nesting of the Olive Ridley was followed by sporadic nesting in the rookery, considered as the second largest after Gahiramatha. "The mass nesting started in time
and we expected to continue the phenomenon for next some days," Divisional Forest Officer, Berhampur AK Jena.
The entire area was divided into 30 sectors. Forest personnel and local volunteers were deployed in each sector. Wildlife activists and forest officials provide protections to the eggs in absence of their mother turtles. After laying eggs, the female turtles go into deep sea without waiting to see the hatchels, which generally emerge 45 days of the nesting.
"People in the area are cooperating with the forest personnel to protect the eggs," said Rabindra Nath Sahu, secretary of Rushikulya Sea Turtles Protection Committee.
Several research scholars from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) also thronged the nesting site to witness the unique phenomenon.
Besides the river Rushikulya mouth and Gahiramatha, the Devi river mouth in Odisha coast is also the famous mass nesting sites for the Olive Ridley.
The sea turtles, however are yet to be started mass nesting in other two sites, sources said.