BERHAMPUR: The Covid-19 lockdown may have left humans distressed but it has come as a boon for the endangered Olive Ridleys that are currently nesting at the Rushikulya rookery. The rookery that remains crowded with tourists who throng the beach to witness the turtles nesting during this part of the year now wears a deserted look.
Except for the forest officials who are patrolling the beach to protect the turtle eggs from predators, no tourists or locals are allowed to enter the rookery stretch from Podempeta to Purunabandha village in Ganjam district. Nesting started on March 21 at the rookery. Usually, mass nesting of Olive Ridleys attracts a lot of tourists every year which disturbs the nesting turtles. However, with no human activity, more number of turtles have laid eggs this time, said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Amlan Nayak.
Around 3,23,063 Olive Ridleys nested at Rushikulya rookery this time and in an unusual phenomenon, the turtles laid eggs during day time instead of night. While forest officials are yet to ascertain the reason behind the phenomenon, they said day time nesting was last witnessed in 2013. Last year, turtles had not turned up at the beach for nesting but in 2018, as many as 4,73,000 Olive Ridleys had nested twice between February and April. On an average, each turtle lays around 100 eggs that hatch in 45 days.
This year, the nesting was delayed by a month but forest officials are hopeful that the number of female hatchlings will be more because of the rising temperature. For the protection of the eggs from predators, fencing has been done on the six km stretch from Gokharkuda to Bateswar and the area that has been divided into 50 zones for effective patrolling. “Some eggs have been collected for hatching in six artificial hatcheries”, the DFO added. However, Rabindranath Sahu of Samudrika Kaincha Surakhya Samiti said many of the eggs have been washed away due to unseasonal rain in the last one week besides, high tide on full moon and new moon days.
- 3,23,063 Olive Ridleys nested at Rushikulya rookery this time
- Nesting was delayed by a month but forest officials are hopeful that the number of female hatchlings will be more
- Turtles laid eggs during day time instead of night