One lakh turtles nest in Rushikulya beach in Orissa

Last Updated: Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 13:36

Berhampur: Over one lakh endangered
Olive Ridley sea turtles have laid eggs on the beach adjoining
the Rushikulya river mouth since Monday as scientists observedthe phenomenon with interest.

The eggs are expected to hatch in the first week of May,
about 45 days after the mass nesting.

While 6,000 turtles emerged from the sea to lay eggs in
the wee hours of Monday, around 65,000 swarmed the four-km
long sandy beach between Gokharakuda and Kantiagada the next day. The number of nesting turtles came down thereafter.

Kartik Shanker, a turtle biologist from the Indian
Institute of Science - Bangalore and Basudeb Tripathy of the
Wildlife Institute of India, who are here to study the pattern
of mass nesting, said the laying of eggs could continue
sporadically for a few more days.

The hatching will take place around the first week of May
when the temperature will be high.

Shanker said that the gender of the new-born turtles
would determined by several factors including the prevailing
temperature of the time.

"If the temperature is high, number of female
hatchings are expected to emerge from the eggs," said Shanker
adding it could happen in the Rushikulya beach as the day
temperature was on the rise.

Wildlife activists said mass nesting at Rushikulya beach
had been delayed by about a month compared to last year. Last
year the mass nesting took place from February 14 and over 2
lakh turtles had converged for mass nesting.

More male turtle babies were likely to hatch in the Nasi
Island off Gahiramatha beach where an estimated 1.87 lakh
turtles had laid eggs about a fortnight ago, Shanker said.

The scientists, however, said there was no delay in the
mass nesting in the Rushikulya beach. Olive Ridley turtles
generally come for mass nesting any time between January and
April, Shanker said.

Nesting in the second week of March usually damage eggs
because of rough sea and strong winds that erode the beach,
experts observe.

When mass nesting had taken place in the second week of
March in the past, a large number of eggs had been destroyed,
they said.

The Divisional Forest Officer (Berhampur) A K Jena said
measures had been taken to protect the eggs till the hatching
occurred. Besides providing nets, the forest personnel, local
volunteers and police had been deployed in the area for
enhanced protection and guarding the eggs from kites, jackals
and stray dogs, the DFO said.

Orissa Governor M C Bhandare had visited the beach
yesterday to witness the mass nesting.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 13:36

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