A proposal has been made to establish a permanent research centre near the Rushikulya rookery on the Odisha coast to study the mass nesting of Olive Ridleys and the environmental factors related to it.
Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Ashis Behera said a detailed project report had been sent to the State government.
The research centre is expected to be established at a cost of more than ₹9 crore. The Forest Department is planning to have it in the Khallikote forest range, which is near the Rushikulya rookery.
The centre would be involved in a detailed study of the habits and the habitat of the turtles and the coastal flora and fauna.
As per the plans, it would have a museum for the general public where skeletons and eggs of different marine turtles would be displayed. It would also include models and interactive displays.
A scientist of Wildlife Institute of India Bivash Pandav — considered to be the first wildlife researcher and documenter of the mass nesting at the rookery — said the centre should start functioning as early as possible. He said it would make the Odias realise that since generations the local fishermen had been protecting the now endangered marine turtles.
The centre would also allay myths and unscientific theories related to the mass nesting, said the DFO. Recently, it became viral on social media that the turtles had sensed Cyclone Fani and gave the rookery the skip. But past data proved the assumption wrong. Mass nesting occurred at the rookery in 1999 and 2013, when major cyclones hit the Odisha coast. In both cases, the Rushikulya rookery was affected. Mass nesting had not occurred in 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2016 though no major cyclone hit the coast.