Olive Ridley baby turtles emerge from nesting site

Kendrapara: Millions of rare baby turtles have begun emerging from the egg-shells along the kilometre long tranquil Gahirmatha beach off the sea in Orissa.

Since Monday evening, baby Olive Ridley turtles have begun breaking out of eggshells marking the culmination of the annual rendezvous of these marine species, wildlife officials said.

Newborn hatchlings have begun emerging from theirnests at the nesting grounds at south eastern Nasi islands of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.
"Adverse weather condition prevented forest personnel from witnessing the matchless natural phenomenon. The area is now inaccessible because of rough sea and tide-infested rivulet. However, the forest patrol squad is stationed at the desolate beach to ensure the safe seaward voyage of turtle hatchlings," said Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division.

Wildlife guards of Bhitarkanika national parkstationed at these nesting grounds are sole witness to this unique natural heritage involving birth of babies sans mother. The emergence of hatchlings from egg shells is expected to continue for at least three-four more days.

The babies broke out of the eggshells and wandered around the sandy beach for nearly an hour before making their way to swirling seawater.

It`s a rare visual treat as the delicate babies with mothers nowhere in sight generated hissing noise thus creating soothing cacophony.

Later, they made a beeline towards the sea. No wildlife researcher made it to the place this time to witness the rare natural phenomenon because of prohibition on visit to the place, sources said.

Earlier in February, an estimated 3.6 lakh turtles had embarked on their annual sojourn at the Gahirmatha beach for mass nesting as the female turtles had dug out pits to lay eggs. After the mass-nesting, the mother turtles had made seaward journey leaving the eggs to incubate naturally.

After the eggs are incubated under natural process, the hatchlings come out after 45-55 days hiatus. The phenomenon of babies` emergence from the nests is a unique proposition in itself as the babies grow sans mother.

The mortality rate of hatchlings is very high as one out of a thousand survives the life cycle to grow into an adult, according to wildlife researchers.