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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Olive Ridleys start nesting in Rushikulya

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Rushikulya, Gahirmatha and Devi river mouth, the three principal rookeries in Odisa are now prepared to welcome Olive Ridleys for their mass nesting. Out of these nesting sites of Olive Ridleys, nesting in Rushikulya rookery coast has started in full swing, but other two Rookeries are yet to experience this season’s nesting by the endangered marine turtle species. Rushikulya rookery coast is located in Ganjam district of south Odisa.

Image -1 : A scene of Gahirmatha rookery

It has been reported that around 55,000 turtles have already nested on the coast near the Rushikulya rookery and the current mass nesting process at this site is expected to go on up to three or four days more. Around 2, 51,000 turtles were reported nesting on this coast last year.

A sand bar 200m inside the sea, about two km long has been created near the nesting site of Rushikulya. Turtles have been reported to prefer this site for nesting. Forest Department’s sources report that about 70% of nesting had already taken place by the end of February on this sandbar. Earlier, some environmentalists were thinking that the newly created sand bar might have some negative impacts on nesting process along this coast. It has been experienced earlier that Olive Ridleys did not prefer nesting under such conditions.

Image-  2 :Olive Ridleys on Rushikulya sand

Most of the Olive Ridleys laid eggs on the long sandy beach of Rushikulya but natural shifting of the river mouth has completely eroded the beach. So, wildlife lovers were not sure about a proper site for nesting of these turtles. None was expecting either, that turtles would prefer to lay eggs on this sand bar.

A number of predators like foxes, jackals and even stray dogs use to interfere with turtle eggs laid in the sand of the beach. But, now that the sand bar is detached from the main land, predators and even human beings are not expected to interfere there.

The only factor that is expected to disturb nesting of turtles in the sand bar near Rushikulya is overcrowding and the turtles reaching late at the nesting site may dig up the old nests.

Image -3: Eggs of Sea Turtle

The entire stretch of the coastline near the Rushikulya rookery has been divided by the forest department into 22 segments. These segments serve as sampling points for recording data on nesting, and monitoring the security of eggs buried by the turtles into the sand. This year, as per reports, as many as 50 forest officials have been deployed for the purpose of protection of rookeries. In Purunabandha village, near Rushikulya, villagers have formed “Rushikulya sea turtle protection committee” and members of this committee play a major role in the protection of these turtles.

Key Words: sandbar,sampling, protection, rookery, south Odisa, Olive Ridleys,

Image Credits: 1. Greenpeace; 2.The Hindu; 3. Coastal Care

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