Odisha witnessed a breathtaking spectacle as over 1.8 lakh Olive Ridley turtles arrived at the Rushikulya River in Odisha for their annual mass nesting season. The sea turtles began laying eggs on Thursday night and continued till Friday morning in the four-kilometre stretch of the beach from Posampeta to Bateshwar. The nesting season started a month earlier than last year, according to forest officials.
Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Susanta Nanda shared a video capturing the beautiful phenomenon on Twitter, which went viral, garnering over one lakh views. The annual nesting ritual takes place over a few days, and Odisha’s coast is one of the few places in the world where the endangered Olive Ridley turtles arrive in large numbers for mass nesting.
“Odisha welcomes its annual guests. The mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtle has begun at Rushikulya rookery…. It’s happening in day time again…Swagatam,” Susanta wrote.
The early arrival of the turtles is believed to be due to suitable climatic conditions and clean beaches. Last year, a record 5.5 lakh Olive Ridley turtles nested on the beach between March 28 and April 4. The early arrival of the turtles this year has brought cheer to wildlife experts who believe that it could indicate a positive trend in the conservation of the species.
Netizens were captivated by the sheer beauty of nature and exhorted the importance of conservation efforts to ensure the uninterrupted nesting routine of the turtles. “Wow! What a scene to witness. So pleasing to watch,” wrote one user. “Conservation efforts paying off,” another person commented.
Meanwhile, scientists from the Zoological Survey of India also found at least 17 adult female turtles they had tagged in the last two years. The tagging process helps researchers track the turtles’ movement and study their nesting habits.
Olive Ridley turtles are one of the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles. They are named after their olive-coloured shell and can be found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. The species is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, and the mass nesting season is a crucial period for their conservation.
In Odisha, the state forest department has taken several measures to protect the Olive Ridley turtles during the nesting season. The department has set up a 24-hour monitoring system, a temporary hatchery, and banned fishing activities in the nesting zone.
Odisha’s coast is home to several nesting sites for the Olive Ridley turtles, including the Gahirmatha beach, the largest mass nesting site in the world. The state has been successful in protecting and conserving the species, and the early arrival of the turtles this year is a positive sign for their conservation efforts.
The annual mass nesting season of the Olive Ridley turtles is not only a visual treat but also an essential part of the coastal ecosystem. The turtles’ arrival and nesting contribute to the balance of the marine ecosystem, and their conservation is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance.
The early arrival of the turtles this year is a promising sign for their conservation, and the state government’s conservation efforts must continue to ensure that the Olive Ridley turtles thrive in their natural habitat.