Berhampur (Odisha): Over 25,000 eggs have so far been laid by Olive Ridley turtles during mass nesting of the sea creature near river Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district of Odisha.
Around 10,000 female Olive Ridley, listed under Schedule 1 of the endangered species list, climbed the shore and laid eggs by digging the sandy beach at Podampeta since Monday.
This time they started to lay eggs from the north side of the rookery, said Divisional Forest Officer of Berhampur, S S Mishra.
The mass nesting of the Olive Ridley was followed by the sporadic nesting in the rookery, considered as the second largest in the country after Gahiramatha. "The beach is very wide due to cyclone Phailin in October and we expect more number of turtles to lay eggs this time," Mishra said.
Last year, around 2.86 lakh eggs were laid by the Olive Ridleys, which started from February 13.
Asked the reason behind the early mass nesting of the Olive Ridley this year, the DFO said, "We can`t say. It`s nature`s wish".
Expecting that the unique phenomenon will continue for some more days, forest officials made elaborate arrangements for smooth and safe nesting in the beach. The entire area was divided in 45 sectors. Around 150 personnel, expert and local volunteers have been deployed to monitor the mass nesting and for counting the eggs.
They also provided protection to the eggs in absence of their mother turtles. After laying eggs, the female turtles go back to the deep sea without waiting to see the hatchlings, which generally emerge around 45 days of the nesting. "We have made fencing in around 5-km long area," the DFO said.
"The local people are cooperating with the forest personnel to protect the eggs," said Rabindra Nath Sahu, secretary of the Rushikulya Sea Turtles Protection Committee.
Besides river Rushikulya mouth and Gahiramatha, Devi river mouth in Odisha coast is also a famous mass nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles.