Olive Ridleys’ nestling ends, over 5.12 lakh eggs laid this year

Every year, adult female turtles crawl from the Bay of Bengal onto Gahirmatha to dig nests for their ping-pong ball-sized eggs. 
Image used for representative purposes only. (Photo | Express)
Image used for representative purposes only. (Photo | Express)

KENDRAPARA: The four-day long arribada (mass-nesting) of Olive Ridley sea turtles ended on Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 islands within Gahirmatha marine sanctuary on Saturday with over 5.12 lakh eggs laid. This time, between March 9 and 13, at least 5,12,175 eggs were laid by the turtles against 5,01,157 between March 25 and 28 last year.

“The female turtles take around 20 years to mature sexually and lay eggs. Baby turtles born on the beach two decades back are now old enough to lay eggs. This could be the reason for the rise in the number of eggs being laid by the turtles this year,” said forest range officer of the sanctuary, Bichitrananda Behera.

Every year, adult female turtles crawl from the Bay of Bengal onto Gahirmatha to dig nests for their ping-pong ball-sized eggs.  At least 4,51,648 turtles had laid eggs at Gahirmatha in 2019 while 6,65,185 laid eggs in 2018, 6,68,055 in 2017, 51,995 in 2016 and  4,13,334 in 2015. The turtles had skipped Gahirmatha in 2014. In  2000 a record 7,11,500  turtles laid eggs on the beach. Similarly, in 2021 around 3,49,694 turtles laid eggs from March 9 to March 23, said Behera.

The arrival of more than five lakh turtles at Gahirmatha this year reflects decades of conservation work undertaken since the creatures were put on the endangered species list and declared as a schedule - 1 animal on par with tiger and elephant as per the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.  

“We have deployed forest guards to prevent the entry of predators to the nesting sites. Hatchlings will emerge from the eggs after 45 days and find their way to the sea,” added the officer.

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