KENDRAPARA: Millions of rare baby turtles have started emerging from the pits on Wednesday night in Gahirmatha, the world’s largest rookery of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.Forest Range Officer of Gahirmath marine sanctuary Arabinda Mishra said after emerging from the nests, turtle hatchlings have started their journey towards the sea. Around 4.6 lakh Olive Ridley female sea turtles had laid eggs from February 27 to March 8 at Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 islands under Gahirmatha sanctuary. A female turtle lays around 80 to 100 eggs. Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 islands cover only four km and are surrounded by the sea for which the mortality of the baby turtles are not so high, he added.
The female turtles drag her great weight ashore, dig a nest with her back flippers, deposit about 100 eggs and cover and conceal the nests before returning to the sea. The eggs incubate in the warm sand and the female turtles never visit her nest again to take care of the eggs or hatchlings. After 40 to 45 days, two-inch baby turtles hatch and they emerge in a group from their nests in the cool of the night and scurry down the beach to sea water. Once at sea, a new life begins, the forest officer said.
Gahirmatha is unique because it is the largest mass nesting site for Olive Ridley sea turtles in the world. Forrest guards have been deployed to prevent dogs, jackals, birds and other animals from preying on baby turtles, said the official.The State Government has imposed a ban on fishing activities inside the sanctuary from November 1 to May 31 to protect turtles.