Hundreds of sea turtles found dead on Puri beach

Puri: As many as 166 sea turtles along with a Bottlenose dolphin were found dead on the sea beach here on Wednesday. The carcass of the dolphin dotting the shoreline near Pantha Niwas has been sent for post mortem.

A large number of carcasses of the endangered species was found between Light House and Jagannath Sanskrit University.

Sources alleged that the turtles might have been killed by trawlers operating illegally in Bhitarkanika and Devi and Rushikulya river mouths despite a ban imposed on fishing for the safety of sea turtles.

However, forest department claimed that the deaths occurred outside Puri area and the carcasses were washed ashore due to wind.

“The turtles, which have died at least 15 days ago in the sea, were washed ashore due to wind blowing from the southern parts. They were killed in the no-fishing zone in other areas, but washed ashore due to wind,” Puri divisional forest officer (DFO) Sarat Behera said.

However, the exact reason behind such mass deaths could only be ascertained after the forest department officials reach the spot and conduct an investigation, added sources.

“We have to first check the reason behind such a huge number of dead turtles on the beach. We will direct the concerned agencies to look into the matter and take necessary steps,” said Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal.

Meanwhile, noted sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik created a sand art of the Olive Ridley turtles on the beach to create awareness on their safety.

“World knows Odisha for endangered Olive Ridley turtles. I had never seen such a mass death of these species since the time I staarted creating sand art on the Puri beach. So, I wanted to send a message through my art on the safety of the turtles,” Patnaik said.

Recently, scores of whales were washed ashore on the Chennai beach. Despite all efforts by fishermen, at least 45 of them died while the rest were rescued and put back in the sea. The incident had sparked speculation about a unique marine phenomenon leading to the death of so many whales.

Environmentalists do not rule out the possibility of a similar phenomenon being the cause of the death of the sea turtles on the Puri beach.