KENDRAPARA: Carcasses of around 600 Olive Ridley turtles and two dolphins washed ashore have been recovered by forest officials in the last two days. The carcasses were found on the beach from Hukitola to Eakakula in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary areas.
It is suspected that the turtles were killed after being hit by fishing trawlers or entangled in nets in the sea. Though there is a prohibition on fishing in 20 km distance from the beach in Gahirmatha, the trawler operators take fishing illegally there, alleged Hemant Rout, an environmentalist and secretary of Gahirmatha Marine Turtles and Mangrove Conservation Society.
The forest and wildlife officials have been hoodwinking the State Government and the people by providing less numbers of dead turtles to the authorities to save their skins. The death of nearly 1.7 lakh turtles over the past 17 years is sure to adversely affect the population of endangered marine species, he added.
The endangered turtles in large number come to Gahirmatha, mouth of rivers Devi and Rushikulya in Odisha coast, for annual nesting.
Forest Range Officer of Gahirmatha Srirampada Arabinda Mishra said the State Government has imposed a ban order on fishing activities inside the marine sanctuary from November 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019 to protect the sea turtles.
Forest officials have already arrested around 380 fishermen and seized 83 fishing vessels on charges of illegally fishing in Gahirmatha, he informed.