Kendrapada, Dec 07 (UNI) Sporadic nesting of the endangered Olive Ridleys Sea Turtles has started on the sandy nesting grounds under Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary of Bhitarkanika National Park.
Forest officials claimed that the Olive Ridleys had started laying eggs on the sandy beaches of Gahirmatha, the largest rookery in the world.
This apart, a couple of nests of sea turtles at Agarnashi were sighted by the forest officials, who had collected about 80 eggs from the sandy nests and brought them to artificial hatcheries at Agarnashi for artificial hatching.
Artificial hatcheries at Barunei, pentha, Babubali and Agarnasi under Gahirmatha Marine sanctuary would hatch the collected eggs from the beach thisnesting season and later release the hatchlings near the shore.
This had been done by the forest officials every year to protect the eggs from the predators like jackal, wild boers, dogs and birds.
An adult female Olive Ridleys normally lay 120-150 eggs in a go.
The Olive Ridleys arrive at the coast at the dead of night and after laying eggs return into the deep sea water. Hatchlings emerge from these eggs after 45-60 days and find their way to the sea creating a cacophony.
It is one of the nature's rare phenomenon that babies grow without their mother. The mortality rate is so high that only one egg out of every 1000 eggs ultimately hatched out and the hatchling survived to become an adult Olive Ridley.
To protect the eggs from predators, the forest personnel had started keeping vigil on the nests site. The sporadic nesting of turtles, forest officials said, indicated that the mass-nesting of the Olive Ridleys would start early this year.
The state Forest Department had already banned all types of fishing within 20 km of the Ganiramatha marine sanctuary from November one to May 31 next.
The DFO of Rajnagar Mangrove (forest) and wildlife Division had also requested the officials of Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) to stop missile tests and also mask the lights at the Wheeler's island Testing Range during the mass-nesting from February to March.
Mr Jena said the turtles would be disoriented from mass nesting phenomenon if the lights will not be masked at the Wheeler island during the mass nesting time.
As many as 16 onshore and three offshore camps were set up under Gahirmatha marine sanctuary to protect the Olive Ridley sea turtles during the mass nesting season.