A good year for Olive Ridley turtles

Lack of human presence kept nests along the Odisha coast undisturbed

Published - May 19, 2020 10:32 pm IST - BERHAMPUR

Baby steps:  Newly hatched Olive Ridley turtles make their way to the sea from the Rushikulya rookery in Odisha.

Baby steps: Newly hatched Olive Ridley turtles make their way to the sea from the Rushikulya rookery in Odisha.

Mass hatching of the Olive Ridley turtle eggs has ended at the Rushikulya rookery on the Odisha coast.

Lakhs of Olive Ridley hatchlings entered the sea at the beach in Ganjam district. The eggs, buried in nests along the sandy beach, began on May 7. The number of hatchings had reached its peak within a week. At present, hatchings continue to take place at a few stray nests along the coast.

On an average, 80 to 100 hatchlings come out from each nest.

This year, 3,23,063 Olive Ridley turtles had nested at the Rushikulya rookery. Despite the destruction of some nests and eggs by the high tide, a large number of hatchlings entered the sea from here.

According to wildlife experts, approximately one in every 1,000 hatchlings entering the sea survive to reach adulthood.

Following the mass mating that takes place at sea near the coast, male Olive Ridleys begin their return journey to destinations several hundred kilometres away. After the mass nesting, the female turtles do the same.

The eggs, laid in nests dug along the beach, incubate on their own with the help of the heat from the sand. Depending on the temperature of the sand, the eggs hatch in about 45 to 60 days.

Amlan Nayak, Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), said the lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic reduced human presence during the mass nesting period, the incubation and the mass hatching along the Rushikulya rookery coast.

The mass nesting had begun on the beach in the wee hours of March 21, and continued till March 28.

The lockdown also reduced the inflow of tourists and local movement. Except for Forest officials and a few volunteers, no one was allowed to enter the area. There was also a reduction of waste along the beach, allowing for easier movement of the hatchlings to the sea.

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