Mass nesting of Olive Ridleys in Rushikulya

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Kendrapada, Mar 5 (UNI) The much-awaited mass nesting of the endangered Olive Ridleys' sea turtles has begun on the sandy nesting grounds near the Rushikulya river mouth.

Divisional Forest Officer of Rushikulya A K Jena said that over 20,000 sea turtles arrived yesterday for mass nesting on the sandy river banks between Purunabandha and Gokharkuda under Rushikulya, for laying eggs.

He said mass nesting will continue for at least the next couple of days. Besides Rushikulya, the turtles also came in large numbers to the Devi river mouth and Gahirmath beach, the largest rookery in the world, for mass nesting.

The female turtles lay 120-150 eggs at a time. They arrive at the coastal areas of the state at the dead of night and after laying the eggs return to the deep sea.

Hatchlings emerge about 45-60 days later and find their way to the sea creating a cacophony. It is one of Mother Nature's rare phenomenon that babies grow up without their mother care or comfort.

According to Mr Jena, the endangered species' mortality rate is so low that only about one out of every 1,000 eggs laid, ultimately survives to become an adult Olive Ridley.

The forest officials and coast guards here have stepped up sea patrolling so as to check illegal entry of poachers in the prohibited area.

The forest department has already enforced a ban on fishing in the prohibited zone from November 1 - May 31 under the Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982, and Orissa Marine Fishing Rules, 1983.

Meanwhile, sporadic nesting of the turtles have been going on in some beaches inside the marine sanctuary since last one week. The mass nesting phenomenon might occur at any moment in the beaches of Babubali, Pentha, Agarnashi, Barunei and Nasi-I, Rajnagar Mangrove Forest Division officer P K Behera said.

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