BERHAMPUR: It’s a double delight for the wildlife lovers and tourists to Rushikulya.
The arrival of Olive Ridley sea turtles in large numbers for nesting and sighting of migratory birds have been drawing people to the rookery.
While the sea turtles have started arriving for mass nesting near Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district from the last week of November, the avian guests are being sighted for the last one month.
Scores of migratory birds, including bar-headed goose, have been seen near Rushikulya mouth. Some of the birds have been spotted with tags on their neck, signalling their return to the spot. However, to protect the migratory birds forest officials have been asked to keep extra vigil to protect them. Wildlife experts, who are watching them closely, said the birds spend day time near Rushikulya mouth and leave for Chilika and other reservoirs in search of food.
On the other hand, a drive to sensitise fishermen to adopt measures for the safety of the endangered species has been launched and ban on fishing using trawlers imposed. The ban, from November to May, along the State’s coast is necessary to prevent deaths of Olive Ridleys which get entangled in trawlers on their way to the beach.
During the mating season of sea turtles from November till the second week of January, movement of mechanised trawlers used for fishing are banned in the ‘No fishing zone’ stretching up to 20-km from the coast into the sea.
Stringent action will be taken against trawlers found violating the prohibition, said, Divisional Forest
Officer, Berhampur, Asish Kumar Behera. The Fisheries Department and forest officials are jointly conducting patrolling to crackdown on illegal fishing activities in the area. While the Department has two-speed boats, two more have been hired to be engaged in patrolling, he added.
Odisha Traditional Fish Workers’ Union, however, urged the authorities to compensate the loss of livelihood due to the ban on fishing activities.
On the other hand the Forest Department has also sought the cooperation of wildlife activists, local NGOs, industries and Gopalpur Port authorities to lend a helping hand in protecting the sea turtles.
Lakhs of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles arrive at Gokharkuda-Purunabandh area near Rushikulya river mouth every year for mass nesting, which is expected to start in February second week.
Apart from Rushikulya, Bahuda river mouth is also famous for Olive Ridley nesting.