Prafulla Das

Over 2500 dead turtles killed by mechanised fishing boats

891 turtles found dead between Devi River mouth and ParadipState Government blamed for not taking steps to protect the species

BHUBANESWAR: The beaches of Orissa are again littered with dead Olive Ridleys despite efforts by many non-governmental agencies to prevent this. Around 2500 dead turtles have been washed ashore in the past few weeks after being killed by mechanised fishing boats.

Dead turtles have been spotted at the mouths of the Devi and the Jatadhar rivers, Harishpur areas, Chilika coast and Puri. The largest of 891 turtles have been found dead between the Devi river mouth and Paradip.

``The Olive Ridleys visiting the Orissa coast are threatened by various factors such as trawling and exploratory offshore drilling for oil and gas,'' said Sanjiv Gopal of Greenpeace, a voluntary agency that has set up a camp for the first time near the Devi to protect turtles and monitor the nesting patterns.

``The endangered turtles are getting killed near nesting beaches due to lack of efforts on the part of the State Government to continue with patrolling activity for keeping the fishing trawlers at bay,'' Mr. Gopal said.

According to an estimate, more than 1,29,000 turtles have been found dead on the Orissa coast during the past 13 years. In a single incident that occurred in March 2005, about 1,700 turtles were killed by a multi-filament gill net cast near the Nasi Island inside the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, claimed Biswajit Mohanty of Operation Kachhapa, a voluntary effort for conservation of the sea turtles.