Odishatv Bureau

It's that time of the year when nature spills life in full splendour on the coastline of Odisha.

The usually tranquil Gahirmatha, considered a haven for the endangered Olive Ridley turtles, has started coming to life with scores of clucking reptiles preparing ground work to nest eggs.

The Olive Ridley turtles, one of the species of the sea turtle under the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, turn up in millions for mass nesting along the Odisha coast every year.

Years of practice shows the reptiles favour three most important locations to lay their eggs - Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapara district, the Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district and the Devi river mouth in Puri district on the Odisha coast.

Meanwhile, the Odisha government has imposed a seven month ban on fishing activities in sea, within 20 km from the specified coastal regions, to protect the nests of the endangered species.

Keeping this in mind, use of motorised boats, trawlers and mechanised fishing boats have been prohibited from trespassing into the sea turtle nesting beaches and their buffer zones in Dhamara, Devi and Rushikulya river mouths.

Though the Forest department claims to be fully prepared to welcome the marine species, environmentalists have raised some concerns.

The patrolling boats have been damaged and are not being repaired. So, inspection by the Forest staff along the coastline and vigilance on prawn mafia will be a tough task, said an environmentalist

A High Power Committee has been formed under Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra to bolster efforts for the conservation of Olive Ridley turtles. He has directed the departments of Forest and Environment, Fisheries and Animal Resource Development, police, Marine police, Coast Guard and Port authorities on Odisha coast to make concerted efforts at the ground level in conserving and nurturing the Olive Ridley as a precious treasure of the nature.

The State Minister For Fisheries and Animal Resource Development, Arun Sahu inaugurated a mobile application on Oct 29 called ‘Fisher Friend’ which can be used by fishermen while carrying out operations in the sea. The app will warn fishermen when they get too close to prohibited areas.

Assuring safety and security to the Olive Ridley turtles, the DFO at Rajnagar said the department has despatched high speed motor boats from Paradip to strengthen patrolling activities.

“Port authorities and our major stock holders from fishery industries will help us provide boats and other equipments,” he added.

An Olive Ridley usually lays about 120-150 eggs and the hatchlings, after emerging from these eggs in a span of 45 to 60 days, head to the sea from where they will come back to their birth place to nest eggs one day.

By- Somatirtha Purohit