BERHAMPUR: A large number of Olive Ridley turtles have started arriving on the stretch between Gopalpur and Nuagaon, around 4 km from Rushikulya beach in Ganjam district, said DFO Amlan Nayak.
He said the turtles, which mate around this time of the year, were spotted between Arjipalli and Prayagi. Usually, the mating season of the Olive Ridleys begins in November and reaches its peak in December.
As mass nesting is likely to begin from the second week of February, the Forest department is taking all possible steps to protect the turtles. While fishing has been banned up to 20 km from the coast from Gahirmatha to Rushikulya, a forest officer along with 20 staff has been deployed to prevent any violations.
Rabindranath Sahu of Samudrika Kaincha Surakshya Samiti (SKSS), who has been engaged in protection of endangered Olive Ridley turtles for the last two decades, said the the entire stretch of the coast near the rookery has been divided into 45 segments which will serve as sampling points for collecting data relating to activities of the turtles. He said SKSS has demanded to declare Rushikulya rookery an eco-sensitive zone for at least six months every year. Owing to favourable weather this year, nesting is expected to be better than previous years.