Thousands of turtles are involved in mating in deep sea

Mating of Olive Ridley turtles is continuing in sea near the Rushikulya rookery coast.

The Forest Department has initiated measures for protection of these endangered turtles that use the Rushikulya rookery coast for mass nesting every year. Speaking to The Hindu, Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) S.S. Mishra said to check illegal entry of trawlers which were a major threat for these turtles, the Forest Department has started patrolling by boat with support of the State Fisheries Department.

Nine camps

Apart from it, the Forest Department has come up with nine camps on the coast where Olive Ridleys nest to keep watch on the sea and to keep track of Olive Ridley carcasses that float to the beach. According to him, the number of Olive Ridley carcasses found till now on this coast was low and as per findings most of them had died natural causes. He claimed that due to extra vigil, illegal entry of fishing trawlers to this area has been almost eradicated.

Traditional fishing boats are also in less number in this region of the sea this year. It is because most of the traditional fishermen of this coastline have got their nets and boats damaged by the Phailin cyclone in October. It has also provided some extra peace to the Olive Ridleys involved in mating in the sea. At present, thousands of Olive Ridleys are involved in mating in deep sea at a distance of around 10 to 15 kilometres from the coastline near the Rushikulya rookery. According to the forest officials who are monitoring these Olive Ridley turtles in sea, there number was at par with their number in sea last year. It seems the Phailin cyclone has not deterred these marine turtles from reaching this sea coast for mating and nesting.

The Rushikulya rookery coast is considered one of the most preferred locations for nesting of these rare turtles in the world. In 2006, these turtles had mass nesting twice at this coast, which had intrigued experts. In 2013, mass nesting of Olive Ridleys at this coast which had started from February 12th night had experienced another unique phenomenon.

On February 15, around one lakh of these endangered marine turtles preferred to lay their eggs during day time. Usually mother turtles prefer to come out to the beach to at dead of night to nest. In 2013 nesting season, around three lakh Olive Ridleys had nested at this coast. Mating of Olive Ridleys continues till January. After mating, the male turtles return.

The females stay back near this coast and their mass nesting starts in the second week of February. The mother Olive Ridleys also return to sea after laying eggs in holes dug up by them.

On their own the eggs incubate by the heat of the sand and hatch after 45 days.