Turtles reappears for mass nesting

Kendrapara: Olive Ridley sea turtles who were earlier tagged to study their migration pattern have reappeared for mass nesting on the sandy Gahirmatha beach in Odisha’s Kendrapara district.

The sighting of ‘tagged’ turtles has given credence to the belief that these marine creatures prefer Odisha’s nesting grounds for mass nesting.

Nearly a dozen female turtles with metallic tags fitted on their flippers have been sighted on the beach during the ongoing mass nesting. The figure may be on the higher side as locating the tagged turtle amidst million of these animals under darkness was a Herculean task, said a forest official engaged in watch and vigil duty at the nesting ground today.

The state forest department and wildlife institute of India had earlier tagged the turtles with metallic labels to keep tab on their pre and post-breeding migration route.

Around 30,000 turtles were tagged over the years.

Significantly tagged turtles were spotted reemerging at the nesting beaches of Gahirmatha, Devi river mouth and Rushikulya river mouth off Odisha coast.

The sighting of tagged turtles turning up on the beach to lay eggs has thrown light on migration behavioral instinct of Olive Ridley sea turtles. Before the tagging experiment was undertaken, little was known about movement of these itinerant animals, said chief wildlife warden S S Srivastav.

At present turtles’ mass nesting is in full swing on Gahirmatha beach with over 4 lakh a turtles already laying egg since past five days. The natural phenomenon would go on for three to four days more. There is every possibility of more tagged turtles also turning up to lay eggs, Srivastav said.

Wildlife Institute of India in a joint endeavour with forest department had tagged female turtles. Tagging had been conducted during the arrival of turtles for mass nesting.

The reappearance of tagged turtles in Gahirmatha provides evidence to the fact that the female turtles return to the same beach annually for laying their eggs, where they were born decades ago.

Tagging is often conducted to obtain information on reproductive biology, movements and growth rates. Sea turtles throughout the world are known to migrate thousands of kilometers between their nesting beaches and feeding grounds.

The tagging helps in studying the turtle’s migratory route and areas of foraging, said forest officials.