Measures initiated to protect eggs from predators, says forest official
Mass nesting of Olive ridley turtles at Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district of south Odisha has ended although their sporadic nesting was still on.
According to Berhamour Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) S.S.Mishra, this year around three lakh mother Olive ridleys have laid eggs at this coast. It happens to be record number for nesting at this coast during past decade. It may be noted that till date mass nesting of Olive ridleys has not occurred at the two other mass nesting sites which are located at Gahirmatha and Devi river mouth coast.
This year mass nesting of Olive ridleys had started at this coast on February 12 night. It had picked up pace during next few days. On February 15 a unique phenomenon related to mass nesting had been observed. On that day around one lakh of these endangered marine species preferred to lay their eggs during day time. Usually mother turtles prefer to come out to the beach at dead of night to nest.
Quantitatively the mass nesting this year at Ruhsikulya rookery coast was almost three times in comparison to last year. In 2012 around one lakh Olive ridleys had nested at this coast. This year largest number of mass nesting has occurred on a 3.2 kilometre long sand bar between Purunabandha and Gokharkuda. This sand bar is completely detached from the main coast. Due to it the egs laid on this sand bar are protected from predators like dogs and jackals.
Around 4.5 kilometre of beach from Gokharkuda to Podampeta where Olive ridleys have laid eggs are under strict vigil of forest officials. Around 40 locals from adjoining villages of marine fishermen were also employed in the protection of eggs. The activists of Rushikulya Sea Turtles Protection Committee (RSTPC) are also helping in the process. This total stretch of mass nesting has been divided into 32 segments which are under close watch of team of forest officials, researchers and volunteers. A control room has also been established for the protection of turtle nests in the sandy beach, the DFO said.
According to the DFO wire nets would be placed all along the coast where Olive ridleys have nested to protect the eggs from predators and human intervention.
After laying their eggs mother turtles have returned back to sea. These eggs would incubate on their own due to heat of the sand in which they are buried. They would hatch after 45 days.