Mass nesting by Olive Ridley turtles

Kendrapara: Putting fears of forest officials and wildlife lovers to rest endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles have arrived in hordes at Gahirmatha beach here for their annual mass nesting.
 
The one-km long beach stretch along Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 island, close to the Wheeler's Island missile test range, is now teeming with female turtles digging pits with their flippers and laying eggs.
 
The mass nesting began on Tuesday night and about 2.10 lakh female Olive Ridley turtles were spotted digging pits to lay their eggs, forest department sources said on Wednesday.
 
This egg-laying by the marine turtles go on for a week.
 
There was apprehension among the forest officials and wildlife enthusiasts that the trutles would skip their visit this year.
 
The forest officials are now of the view that the number of visiting turtles would go up in the coming days with the climate remaining conducive.
 
Emerging from the sea waters, the female marine species have literally occupied the sandy beaches by force.
 
The Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 Islands are witness to the unique en-masse laying of eggs by the delicate marine visitors, said Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, Divisional forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division.
 
To ensure safety, a 600-metre net barricade has been installed along the casuarina forest cover close to nesting ground. Wildlife staff are on round-the-clock vigil to keep predators like jackals, hyena and wild dogs away, he said.
 
As per DRDO's order visitors and outsiders are barred and only forest personnel on turtle protection duty have access to the nesting ground, forest officials said.
 
Gahirmatha beach on the Bay of Bengal coast with its ideal beach topography is acclaimed as the worlds largest-known nesting ground of the Olive Ridley turtles.