Hatchlings of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles emerge

Berhampur: The much awaited hatchlings of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles emerged near Rushikulya river mouth off Ganjam coast on Friday.

Setting aside speculation of wildlife experts that the process might be delayed due to low temperature and cloudy weather in the area, thousands of baby turtles started their journey towards the sea.

`The hatchling was taking place in time. The phenomenon of the baby turtles emerging from the pits near the river mouth is expected to continue for next few days,` divisional forest officer (Berhampur) A K Jena said.

Around 2.54 lakh Olive Ridley female turtles had laid eggs from March 3 to 5 in the area between Gokharakuda and Kantiagada, one of the famous rookeries for this endangered species. After laying eggs, female turtles returned to the sea. This is one of the nature`s rare phenomena where babies grow sans mothers.

Besides the forest staff, local volunteers were engaged for the safety of the little turtles before they crawled to the sea. The baby turtles are vulnerable as they are targeted by the hunting birds, wild dogs and jackals.

`We have engaged adequate forest staff and local volunteers to keep vigil on their safety,` said the DFO.

Besides, the forest department had also requested the concerned authorities to keep the street lights off during these days. The baby turtles might be attracted towards the light and probably fall prey to wild dogs and hunting birds, he said.

A number of nature lovers, wildlife experts and activists were seen thronging the site to witness the rare phenomenon. The forest officials, however, imposed restriction on the tourists visiting very close to the pits from where the baby turtles were emerging by barricading the sites.

"Visit of the people to the area would disturb the hatchlings. So we have taken this step", Jena said. The visitors were allowed to witness the phenomenon from a distance, he added.