8 Lakh Endangered Olive Ridley Turtles Have Returned To Odisha’s Shores For Mass Nesting

Olive Ridley sea turtles have been returning to the shores of India every season for their synchronized nesting in mass numbers. The female turtles reportedly return to the same beach from where they hatched, to lay their eggs. And the coast of Odisha is the largest mass nesting site for them. However, human intrusion and the piles of waste on the coast has kept them from nesting in 2019, reported The Hindu.

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But since the coronavirus pandemic has forced people to stay at home, the Gahirmatha beach and the rookeries in Rushikulya in Odisha has welcomed more than 8 lakh Olive Ridleys to the state, reported New Indian Express.

The endangered turtles have returned to dig nests and lay eggs as tourists and locals stay away from the coast allegedly due to the lockdown.

According to the Forest Department, over 2,78,502 mother turtles have nested at this coast till Wednesday morning. Over 72,142 Olive Ridleys have arrived at the beach to dig nests and lay eggs, reports The Hindu.

Since the mass nesting period is over at Gahirmatha, it is continuing at the rookery. According to estimates, around six crore eggs will be laid this year.

People often used to crowd the spot to witness the turtles, but this time the babies will be safe from human intrusion. It will also lead to undisturbed nesting of the turtles, therefore increasing the number of tiny hatchlings.

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The Berhampur divisional forest officer, Ashish Kumar Behera said, โ€œEvery alternate year is either a bad year or a good year. However, in the last two years, we have seen a phenomenal increase in nesting numbers. This year we have estimated that at least 4.75 lakh turtles came on to nest on Rushikulya beach.โ€

The Forest department in the state has taken necessary precaution and have hired trawlers and speed boats to keep a check on the tiny turtles, preventing them from fish trawlers.

Earlier, swans and dolphins returned to Italy, as air, water quality improved during the lockdown. Even dolphins were spotted off Mumbai shores as the city stood still during the 1-day โ€˜Janata Curfewโ€™. The clear blue sky was also seen during the lockdown. While these are indeed good news, it does highlight how human presence is a grave impediment to nature.

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