Rajnagar, Feb 29: With the nesting season around the corner, endangered Olive Ridley turtles have hit the shore at Odisha’s Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary near Kendrapara.
Though the numbers are few, it is expected to rise sharply over the next few months.
According to official sources, thousands of Olive Ridley turtles have thronged the beaches along the Bay of Bengal at Babubali, Agarnashi-I, Nasi-II, Habalikhati, Barunei, Satabhaya and Pentha.
Even though the mass nesting of the turtles have not begun, about 20 nests were sighted at Babubali and Agarnashi-I, forest department sources said.
During the egg laying season, hoards of female sea turtles crawl ashore at night, dig about 1.5 ft deep flask-shaped nests in the beach and lay 100-120 eggs on an average in each clutch and then bury the eggs under the sand dunes. Hatchlings emerge around 45-60 days after the mother turtle lays the eggs.
The state government and the forest department take special precautionary measure including a seven-month long fishing ban from November 1 to May 31 in the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary to ensure that the nesting season passes off without high mortality rate.
The restriction has been imposed as per Odisha Marine Fishing Act (OMFA). Trawlers and fishermen have been directed not to fish within 20 km from coastline in the turtle nesting sites. Use of motor boats and mechanised trawlers for fishing within 5 km from the coast is prohibited.
Notably, the state government has imposed fishing restriction on 120 km stretch from Dhamra coast to Devi river mouth.