Vikash Sharma

It is no less than a wonder to see lakhs of endangered Olive Ridley turtles thronging the Rushikulya rookery in Odisha’s Ganjam district to lay eggs. The mass nesting is a natural phenomenon and it is also known as ‘Arribada’ in Spanish.

It was after some gap that the Olive Ridley turtles thronged Odisha and the mass nesting started early on the morning of February 23, this year.

On World Wildlife Day, we take a look at the Odisha connection of the Olive Ridley turtles.

During the recently concluded FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023, the Odisha government welcomed sports lovers with ‘Olly’ as the mascot.

Also Read: 1.5 Lakh Olive Ridley turtles lay eggs on 1st day of nesting near Rushikulya mouth

As per official sources, over 5.57 lakh female Olive Ridley turtle laid eggs in four days this year which is said to be highest. In 2022, a record 550,317 turtles had nested at Rushikulya between March 27 and April 4.

The Odisha government imposed a ban on fishing activities on the beach from November 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023. Threat, Concerns & Challenges It is pertinent to mention here that concerns have always been expressed by wildlife activists over the protection of the Olive Ridleys in Odisha.

Also Read: Olive Ridleys day-nest at Odisha’s Rushikulya after two years; IFS officer shares video

Activists allege that despite various awareness programmes involving fishermen, trawler owners and local NGOs for the safety of these critically endangered marine creatures, there has always been rise in the mortality rate of mating turtles. Mainly, illegal operation of trawlers in and around the nesting sites lead to the death of aquatic animals.

Besides, the Olive Ridley turtles also become prey to dogs and other animals. The Odisha government claims that adequate measures are taken to protect Olive Ridleys besides banning fishing by motorised vessels and trawlers within 20 km of the shore along Devi, Dhamra, and Rushikulya river mouths from November 2022 to May 2023.

Apart from this, elaborate security arrangement has reportedly been made at the Rushikulya beach to protect the eggs.

Also Read: Puri turns graveyard for Olive Ridleys, hundreds wash ashore dead despite fishing ban

The entire beach has been divided into 50 sectors; and, over 150 forest staff and volunteers have been engaged to protect the eggs. Moreover, the entire site has been fenced to prevent the entry of wild dogs, jackals and other predators. The beach has also been kept under CCTV surveillance.