Mass nesting of turtles starts in Orissa

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Bhubaneshwar, Feb 19 (ANI): Conservationists, residents and wildlife officials here kept vigil as thousands of turtles arrived at a beach for the annual mass nesting.

Every year as winter rolls around, various species of turtles move in large synchronised concentrations to three major nesting sites along the Orissa coast by the Bay of Bengal, considered one of the world's major nesting grounds. After the young ones are hatched, the turtles return to the sea.

With each turtle laying an estimated 120 eggs, large stretches of nesting grounds are now packed with them.

Wildlife officials were delighted after witnessing mass nesting.

"It happened little bit earlier and it is good. At the same point of time, the population at the mass nesting is always very good. The first day, we got around 3,500 eggs, second day, it was enormously higher, it was around 80,000. The most part of the beach i.e.3.3 kilometres was used by turtles," said A K Jena, a district forest officer.

A scientist with the Wildlife Institute of India said the turtles migrate to the south towards Sri Lanka.

"The research in Orissa is concerned, turtles are migratory. They don't remain at the Orissa cost throughout the year. They remain here from November till April-May and thereafter they migrate towards the south. The results indicate that turtle migrate up to Sri Lanka," said Basudev Tripathy, a scientist with Wildlife Institute of India.

Experts say turtles are particularly vulnerable because of high mortality rates. According to studies, only one out of every 1,000 hatchlings normally reaches adulthood.

The reptiles are mangled by fishing trawler propellers, or suffocated in fishermen's gill nets. They are also killed by pollution, and by poachers, who hunt them for their meat.

The Orissa Government has declared the whole nesting area a marine sanctuary and has banned mechanised trawlers in the state. Besides, it is also urging fishermen to include Turtle Excluding Devices in their fishing equipment. By Sharda Lahangir (ANI)

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