Kendrapara: Endangered sea turtles – Olive Ridley – were sighted by forest personnel in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.
In order to protect Olive Ridleys, a Plus II student has taken up an awareness campaign among fishermen’s community in Mahakalapada block of the district by distributing leaflets and spreading awareness messages by riding on her bicycle.
Tanshuree Swain, 17, a Plus II Science second year student of Sri Sri Baya Baba College, has started a mission on her cycle to create awareness in her area to protect Olive Ridleys at Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in the ongoing breeding season.
According to Tanushree, conservation of endangered turtles is important to maintain ecological balance. She has also been seeking the support of local fishermen to check the mortality of the species that reach the beaches en masse for nesting. She has been discussing with fishermen on the need to restrict use of trawlers in the prohibited zone of Gahirmatha and involve them in the conservation of endangered marine species.
Mechanised trawlers generally venture into the sea to catch fish and destroy Olive Ridleys, which are protected under Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, as the trawlers carry long nets into deep waters and the turtles get entangled in them and are dragged for several kilometres resulting in their mortality, said Tanushree.
The turtle group (testudines) is one of the four species that remain on earth today. The Gahiramatha sanctuary is unique because it is the largest mass nesting site for Olive Ridleys in the world. The high abundance of fish as evidenced from higher fish catch is indicative of high productivity in the area.
The selective preference of turtles for feeding jelly fish which otherwise would have devoured fishlets, helps maintain the quality and quantity of fish catch. She has been advising fishermen to keep off fishing with trawlers by trespassing into the prohibited zones.
“If the trawler operation is stopped, then mortality of the endangered species can be minimised. This is the motto of my mission,” added Tanushree.