Environment

Odisha’s Rushikulya sees first olive ridley nesting

An olive ridley turtle digs a nest in the sand at Rushikulya beach.

An olive ridley turtle digs a nest in the sand at Rushikulya beach.   | Photo Credit: File

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Eggs hatched from sporadic nestings have to be protected as the wire fencing to be put in place to protect nests and eggs will be erected only in February, before the mass nesting process.

Marking the first sporadic nesting in the current season, an olive ridley turtle laid 149 eggs on a mass nesting beach at the Rushikulya rookery coast on Tuesday. While the first nesting has occurred on the coast, mass mating of the turtles has already started at sea. On November 2, another olive ridley had laid eggs on the coast, said officials.

But at that time, the olive ridleys had not yet arrived for mass mating. The eggs from the two nestings have been collected for incubation in an artificial hatchery. The Forest Department has already set up with 11 artificial hatcheries on the beach. as sporadic nesting is expected to rise, while mass mating continues at sea.

Eggs hatched from sporadic nestings have to be protected as the wire fencing to be put in place to protect nests and eggs will be erected only in February, before the mass nesting process.

The Rushikulya rookery coast is a major mass nesting site for the olive ridleys on the Indian coast. Despite a large congregation for the mass mating season, olive ridleys had not appeared for the mass nesting period on this coast in 2019. However, in 2018, double mass nesting was reported in February and April, with the total nesting figure reaching close to 4,73,000.

Mating pairs sighted

At present, a large number of mating olive ridley pairs have been sighted at sea, at a distance of around 6 km from Purunabandha, near the Rushikulya river mouth, said Khallikote Forest Range Officer Dilip Kumar Martha, who is monitoring the protection of these guests. Thousands of olive ridleys have also started to congregate for mating deep at sea, beyond the spot where the mating pairs were found.

Usually, the mass mating of olive ridleys picks up in December and continues till the month of January. After the mating period, male turtles return while females remain for the mass nesting season in February.

To protect the arrival of olive ridleys from fishing trawlers, Forest officials have been regularly patrolling the sea near Rushikulya rookery with help of two trawlers, two speed boats and a country boat.

Eleven on-shore camps have been set up on the five kilometre stretch of the mass nesting beach, from Purunabandha to Prayagi near the Rushikulya river mouth. Two persons have also been deployed at each of these camps to regularly document the beach condition, protect the stretch, inform about debris deposited by the sea, stop the entry of predators like stray dogs and search for the possibility of turtle carcasses floating to the coast.

With help of the locals and various social organisations, this stretch of the mass nesting coast is being cleaned up every alternate day, said Mr. Martha.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 9:54:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/odishas-rushikulya-sees-first-olive-ridley-nesting/article30281937.ece

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