Mrunal Manmay Dash

Nearly five lakh olive ridley turtles laid eggs in just three days at the beginning of their nesting season along the Odisha coast in Kendrapara’s Gahirmatha.

As per the forest department report, while 88 thousand turtles laid eggs on March 9, the number grew to 2,14,058 the next day, on March 10.

The department has pinned its hopes on this year’s number as the first two days have proved encouraging.

Speaking about the mass nesting of olive ridleys, Rajnagar DFO, Sudarshan Gopinath Jadhav said, “The mass nesting started on March 9 at Gahirmatha. On the first day, around 88 thousand turtles laid eggs. More than 2 lakh turtles laid eggs on March 10 and 1.73 lakh eggs have already laid eggs on March 11 taking the total to 4.73 lakh in just three days.”

“We are hoping to have a good amount of nesting this year at Gahirmatha at par with the Rushikulya sea mouth nesting,” he added.

The department has made elaborate safety arrangements for the safe nesting of the turtles.

“We have fenced the beach adjacent to Abdul Kalam island to restrict the dogs and other carnivores from destroying the nests. We have completely secured the beach for the nesting,” he added.

Speaking about the post-nesting security, Jadhav said, “The peculiarity about Gahirmatha is, turtles use nighttime to nest here. We have deployed our people to guard the eggs 24*7 until the eggs are hatched.”

Apart from Gahirmatha, around 1.5 lakh Olive Ridley turtles had laid eggs on the first day of their mass nesting which started near the mouth of Rushikulya river, around 50 km from Berhampur town in Ganjam district.

As per the forest officials, the mass nesting of the sea turtles has started in the four km stretch of the beach at Posampeta under Palibandha Gram Panchayat for the last couple of days. Thousands of Olive Ridley turtles have emerged from the sea marking the commencement of the annual mass nesting of the endangered marine species.

Interestingly, the mass nesting, which will continue for some more days, was seen after a gap of two years.

(Reported By Prabira Nayak, OTV)