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Saswat Singhdeo

Ganjam: In contrast to previous years, there has been a sharp decline in mass nesting of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles along the beachline between Podampeto and Gokharkuda of Ganjam district this year.

Every year, lakhs of these turtles lay eggs near the beach in the month of February and later in April and May following which the hatchlings emerge out of the nest to make their way into the sea water. But this year, there has been a significant dip in mass nesting owing to unsuitable weather conditions, claim environmentalists.

"Untimely rain in the area is one of the major reasons why the turtles didn't choose the place for nesting," said Rabindra Sahu, President of Kainchha Surakshya Samiti.

Another environmentalist, Rajkumar Baitharu, said, "Change in weather and sea level are directly affecting the endangered species."

While the absence of turtles has raised major concern among the local residents, fishermen have claimed that there has also been a decline in the number of fishes in the sea.

Even tourists who had come to see the Olive Ridley turtles have expressed their disappointment.

"There is no mass nesting in the area this year which is why the area looks so dull and empty," said a tourist, Umakant Behera.

On the other hand, Forest Department officials have said that despite all the preparations made before the arrival of the turtles, change in weather condition post Cyclone Fani has affected the entire process.

Assistant Conservator of Forest, Ashok Behera, said, "After Cyclone Fani, the landscape along the beach changed prominently due to which the Olive Ridley turtles failed to reach the spot and lay eggs."

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