While Humans Are Locked inside, Thousands of Endangered Turtles Return to Odisha Beach to Lay Eggs

The East Indian state of Odisha is globally known for its seasonal hosting of olive ridley sea turtles as they visit the sea shore along the Bengal Bay to nest.

This spring, marine conservationists and state forest department were in for a big surprise- they saw mass nesting of a species during the day after seven long years.

The officials of the local government said that the daytime nesting happened around the Rushikulya rookery after seven years of absence.

According to district forest officer, Amlan Nayak, the last time they witnessed olive ridley nesting was back in 2013. Otherwise, the nesting happened during the night time.

One of the Most Popular Olive Ridley Turtle Mass Nesting

Rushikulya is located in the Ganjam district of Odisha along the Bengal Bay and it’s one of the most prominent locations for nesting of olive ridley turtles.

Annually, the female turtles come on the beach to prep their nests and lay eggs.

The olive ridley turtle is one of the most common sea turtles in the world and estimates claim there are around 800,000 nesting females per year.

This species is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.

This year’s nesting has been delayed a bit due to the torrential rains in the region.

Usually, it begins in the third week of February and continues until the first week of March whereas this year, the nesting began in late March and lasted until the end of the month and t even happened during the day.

This mass nesting recorded around 330,000 turtles. The event seems to coincide with the lockdowns set in the effort to cease the spreading of the virus.

In this case, some claim it’s because there are no tourists in the area. But, most experts and officials denied a connection between the lockdowns and the nesting activities of this turtle species.

S.N. Patro, environmentalist and president of Orissa Environment Society explains that he doesn’t believe the lockdowns are linked with the nesting activities of the turtles; however, what it may do is lower the casualties of the sea turtles on the egg damages they have in normal days.

Experts describe turtles as quite confident animals that want dry and clean beaches and a feeling of safety. Mass nesting therefore didn’t happen last year due to the debris from the Titli cyclone that happened in 2018.

Sources:

TIMES OF INDIA

INDIA MONGABAY

THE LOGICAL INDIAN

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