Rushikulya waits for Olive Ridleys

Climate could be a reason for delay

Even after waiting for almost a month, Olive Ridley turtles have not yet arrived for mass nesting at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery and Devi river mouth. The reasons are not fully understood yet.

Mass nesting has already occurred at the Gahirmatha coast of the State.

Wildlife Institute of India’s (WII) scientist Bivash Pandav said it could not be said for sure whether mass nesting would occur or not at the Rushikulya rookery this year. According to Mr. Pandav, who has studied mass nesting along the Odisha coast over the past decades, mass nesting of Olive Ridleys can occur up to any time till the end of April.

Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Ashis Behera said that, till now, lakhs of impregnated female Olive Ridleys are continuing to congregate in the sea near the Rushikulya rookery, but they aren’t approaching the beach for mass nesting. “Sporadic nesting is continuing at this coast since February. Till now, over 1,000 mother turtles have nested at the Rushikulya rookery,” said Mr. Behera.

“Although it is held that climatic parameters as well as beach conditions decide mass nesting at a coast, we are still not sure how these parameters affect their decision-making,” said Mr. Pandav.

The Forest Department has readied six artificial hatcheries to incubate eggs resulting from sporadic nesting. The beach has been cleaned up. A metal net fences a stretch of over five kilometres from Gokharkuda to Prayagi — this fencing is expected to protect Olive Ridleys and their eggs from predators and human intervention. CCTV cameras continue to keep a watch on the nesting beach.

This year, the Forest Department also prepared a three-km-long coast near the Bahuda river mouth, from Sunapur to Anantpur, as an alternative mass nesting site, about 20 km to the south of Rushikulya. However, except for few occurrences of sporadic nesting, mass nesting has yet not occurred at this new beach.

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