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Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles begins at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery

Welcome sight: Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings at the Rushikulya rookery in Ganjam district of Odisha.

Welcome sight: Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings at the Rushikulya rookery in Ganjam district of Odisha.   | Photo Credit: Lingaraj Panda

Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles began at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery, a major nesting site of these marine turtles, on Thursday night.

Also read: Mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles draws to a close at Rushikulya

Thousands of hatchlings came out of the nests buried in sand to crawl towards the sea to start their long journey. On an average 80 to 100 turtles hatch from each nest.

According to Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Amlan Nayak, the event marked the beginning of mass hatching at the rookery.

Set to increase

The number of mass hatchings were expected to increase in the coming days. “In the past few days, the eggs collected from sporadic nesting spots to be incubated at artificial hatcheries of the Forest department along this coast have also started to hatch,” he added.

This year, 3,23,063 Olive Ridley turtles had nested at the Rushikulya rookery. The mass nesting process began in the wee hours of March 21 and continued till the night of March 28. Olive Ridley turtle eggs incubate on their own in the heat of the beach sand.

Temperature matters

They hatch in 45 to 60 days, depending on the temperature of the sand and atmosphere during the incubation period. As mass nesting numbers had gradually increased to reach the peak and then decreased, mass hatching was also expected to take the same path, said the DFO. To protect the eggs from predators and humans, the Forest department had put up metal net fencing over 5 km from Gokharkuda to Bateswar, and the area was divided into 50 segments for regular watching.

Rabindranath Sahu, president of the Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee (RSTPC), an organisation of villagers living near the rookery involved in protection of Olive Ridleys, said this year there was minimal human intervention during the mass nesting, incubation period and continuing hatching process.

The lockdown due to COVID-19 had stopped outsiders from reaching the spot. “But high tides related to new moon on April 23 had washed away a large number of nests,” Mr. Sahu said.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 3:40:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mass-hatching-of-olive-ridley-turtles-begins-at-odishas-rushikulya-rookery/article31538323.ece

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