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Olive Ridleys keep date with Odisha coast, arrive in large numbers

Olive Ridley turtles have kept their date with Gahirmatha beach in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, known as world’s largest rookery of this endangered species, arriving just offshore for mating in large numbers.

“Olive Ridley pairs have been seen floating near Gahirmatha coast since October last week. We hope that turtles would scale the sand slope in large number to lay eggs in January and February,” said Bimal Prasad Acharya, Divisional Forest Officer of Mangrove Forest Division (Wildlife), Rajnagar, on Thursday.

Offshore congregation of Olive Ridley pairs has been observed along 8 km of the Habelighati shoreline. The spectacular sight fascinates nature lovers and scientists.

To ensure safe mating, day and night patrolling has been intensified so that fishing attempts can be checked, said Subrat Patra, Gahirmatha forest range officer. Mechanised fishing spells the biggest trouble for turtles as they get entangled in the trawl net.

The forest division recently got a shot in the arm with the acquisition of two speed boats -- with the assistance of World Bank -- which have enabled wildlife teams to patrol the entire stretch of Gahirmatha sanctuary in five to six hours as against the earlier 11-12 hours.

In 2016-17, around 9.75 lakh Olive Ridley turtles came out from the sea to lay eggs along the Odisha coast. Nasi II Island of Gahirmatha Sanctuary had alone hosted six lakhs. As per the forest department estimates, 20.22 lakh hatchlings finally emerged from egg shells in Gahirmatha.

Following a high-level meeting held here in the third week of October, a central monitoring unit was set up in the Principal Chief Wildlife Warden’s office to coordinate with law-enforcing bodies for ensuring smooth mass-nesting of turtles, which begins in November and continues till May.

Sporadic nesting activities of the turtles and their mortality are also being monitored through a web portal, www.manage.odishawildlife.org. It has also been decided that rookeries would be fenced to protect the nests and eggs after the mass nesting.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 9:14:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/olive-ridleys-keep-date-with-odisha-coast-arrive-in-large-numbers/article20034402.ece

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