Lakhs of baby Olive Ridley turtles emerge from mass nesting site

United News of India

Kendrapada, April 19, 2011

Lakhs of Olive Ridley sea turtles' hatchlings have started emerging since Monday from the pits at the sandy nesting ground at South Nasi under Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.

Rajnagar Mangrove forest DFO Manoj Mohapatra said the nesting site of South Nasi (Nasi-II) was littered with turtle nests as about 3.62 lakh of Olive Ridley sea turtles visited the sandy beach and laid eggs from February 26 to March 7 last.

Generally a female lays about 120-150 eggs in one go and returns to the sea after concealing the nest. The female turtle never visits her nest again to take care of the eggs or the hatchlings.

The hatchlings emerge after 45-60 days and find their way to the sea creating a cacophony. It is one of Nature's rare phenomenon that babies grow without their mother, Mr Mohapatra said.

About 40 forest personnel are deployed on the beach to protect the eggs and baby turtles from predators like jackals, wild boars, dogs and birds.

The forest officials have effectively enforced the ban order from November 1 last to May 31 under the Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982 and Orissa Marine Fishing Rules, 1983 and Wildlife Protection Act.

As bright lights generally disorient the turtle hatchlings going to the sea, the forest officials have asked the Defence personnel of Missile Test Range (MTR) at the Wheelers Island to mask the lights.

Forest official sources said the untimely rain and wind on Tuesday morning had damaged the nesting sites as several turtle eggs were destroyed.