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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Berhampur: The Odisha Forest Department on Tuesday launched the tagging of Olive Ridley sea turtles at Rushikulya mouth near Berhampur to make further research on the elusive sea creatures.

The tags are not GPS-enabled; rather the protected turtles will sport physical tags which will be uniquely numbered.

A total of six turtles were tagged on Tuesday, out of which two were male and four females.

The drive was undertaken by the Odisha Forest and Environment Department in collaboration with the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI). As per reports, the exercise is being done by the government after a gap of 25 years. The last such drive was reportedly held in 1995/96.

The decision in this regard was taken by a high-power committee under the chairmanship of the Odisha Chief Secretary.

Speaking to the media, the DFO of Berhampur, Amlan Nayak said, "Initially, the Wildlife Institute of India and the Zoological Survey of India were entrusted with the task of tagging the turtles. However, we commenced the drive today in collaboration with the ZSI."

"The primary purpose of tagging is to gain more knowledge on their movement. We wanted to know, where they are moving after laying eggs here on Rushikulya mouth. Whether the same turtles return to the same beach every year or move around looking for suitable nests," said Nayak.

The forest department has set a target of tagging 30,000 turtles this year. Notably, only 8,000 turtles were tagged last time in 1995/96.

Clearing the apprehensions about obstruction in mating of the turtles, Nayak said, "There will not be any obstruction as their mating season has almost come to an end. Usually these kinds of drives are conducted after their mating season ends."

(Edited By Ramakanta Biswas)

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