Turtles lay eggs en masse at Gahirmatha

Kendrapara: The mass nesting of Olive Ridley sea turtle started at Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary Wednesday as more than 1.28 lakh turtles have laid their eggs at the nesting beach of Nasi-II in the last 24 hours.
“The mass nesting would continue for four to five days,” said Bimal Prasanna Acharya, DFO of Rajnagar mangrove (forest) and wildlife division.
The forest personnel have taken all precautionary measures to provide a congenial atmosphere to the sea turtles for the mass nesting at the golden beach of Nasi-II, the largest rookery of the species, Acharya added.
Female turtles tend to move towards the beaches in large synchronised concentrations. They lay 100-120 eggs in a go at midnight in 45 centimeter pits, which they dig with their rear flippers.
After laying the eggs, the turtles cover the nests with sand and return to the sea in a zigzag manner to confuse predators about the location of the nests. Hatchlings emerge from these eggs after 45-55 days and find their way to the sea creating a cacophony.
The mortality rate of the species is so high that one out of every 1,000 eggs laid ultimately hatches and the hatchling survives to become an adult.
With the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) prohibiting visitors, only a handful of forest personnel on turtle protection duty have been engaged at the beach.
As many as 6,04,046 Olive Ridley turtles had laid eggs at Nasi-II beach between February 22 to March 1 last year.
The state forest department has imposed a ban on trawl fishing along the 20-km stretch of Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary from November 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018 in view of the mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles.
As many as 62 fishing trawlers were intercepted and 459 fishermen were arrested by the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary personnel for illegally catching fish since November 1, said Subrat Kumar Patra, ranger of Gahirmatha.


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