Beach cleaned before nesting of Olive Ridley turtles

Berhampur (Orissa), Feb 21 (PTI) Ahead of mass nestingof Olive Ridley sea turtles, school children along with forestpersonnel and volunteers today cleaned about three km longbeach from Gokharakuda to Pdampeta, near river Rushikulyamouth in Ganjam district, famous mass nesting site ofendangered species.

Toiling for about five hours, about 50 students of theGopal Krushna High School of nearby Subalaya village collectedthe garbage accumulated on beach and carried it outside.

After Gahiramatha, Rushikulya river mouth, comprisingaround 4.5-km-long beach from Gokharakuda to Purunabandh, hademerged as the second largest rookery of Olive Ridley turtles.

Cleaning of the mass nesting site was one of thestrategies adopted by the forest department for safe andsmooth nesting of the turtles, forest officials said.

Besides their personnel, they also involved schoolchildren and local volunteers in the drive, the sources said.

"Sporadic nesting has already been noticed and thousandsof sea turtles are seen near the beach. They are likely toreach the beach en mass for nesting any time. Before massnesting take place, we have prepared the strategy," saidDivisional Forest Officer (Berhampur) A K Jena.

Students of our school, mainly the members of the EcoClub, formed under the National Green Crops (NGC) were engagedin the beach clean drive, said the district coordinator of theEco Clubs Shankar Narayan Bez.

They have been cleaning the nesting site for the lastsix years, Bez, a teacher of the school, said.

The garbage cleaning drive was being carried out bythe forest department before the mass nesting every year afterthe school students prepared a science project citing theobstacles faced the turtles in the beach for mass nesting.

"We have cited the accumulation of garbage as one ofthe hindrances for their smooth and safe nesting and hadrecommended beach cleaning before the mass nesting," said Bez,who was the guide of the project.�Besides getting involved in cleaning drive, they arealso monitoring the species, said the convener of the Ganjamdistrict turtle protection committee Rabindra Nath Sahu.

Since the turtles crawl into the beach at any time tolay eggs, other strategies have been prepared with deploymentof forest staff and volunteers. The entire nesting site hadbeen divided into 40 sectors, the DFO said.

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