Nesting of Olive Ridley turtles was low this year

Six lakh newborn Olive Ridley turtles have made their way to the sea at Rushikulya Rookery, a major nesting site of these endangered marine turtles, since hatching began three days back.

According to forest officials the mass hatching is almost complete for the year. This year, nesting of Olive Ridley turtles was low in the area in comparison to 2013. Around 61,000 turtles had nested at this coast in March this year, said Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) S.S.Mishra.

In 2013 around three lakh turtles had nested at Rushikulya rookery. Forest officials with the support of volunteers from villages near the Rushikulya Rookery had made all efforts to reduce mortality rate of the hatchlings.

Forest officials say mass hatching has almost ended but sporadic hatching of remaining nests would continue for the next few days.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Mishra said the urban body of Ganjam town, authorities of Jayashree Chemicals as well as the inhabitants of villages near the rookery had been requested to switch off lights from April 2 till the end of the mass hatching process.

The Olive Ridley eggs hatch under the sand at night and move towards the sea after coming out of the sand. However, they are extremely sensitive to light and tend to move towards land instead of the sea if there is a bright source of light. So, the forest department had requested all concerned authorities to switch off street lights at night during these few days of mass nesting. Most of them had agreed to do so.

In the area where mass nesting had occurred this year, nets had been fixed towards the land side. The hatchlings that strayed and moved towards the land were caught in the net. They were collected by forest officials and volunteers and released in sea. The mass nesting at this coast started on March 10, which was early in comparison to previous years.