| Baby Olive Ridley turtles on Gahirmatha beach. Telegraph picture |
Paradip, May 6: The emergence of millions of baby Olive Ridley turtles since last night along Gahirmatha beach off the Bay of Bengal coast has come as a relief to conservationists.
Wildlife lovers are elated as hatchlings broke out of eggshells and crawled towards their seaward journey in the nesting grounds at Nasi-2 island. An estimated 1.68 lakh turtles had arrived at the Nasi-2 nesting ground between March 20 and 28 to lay eggs on the beach.
Since last night, the newborn babies have been emerging with mother turtles nowhere in sight. The whole of Nasi-2 island were teeming with baby turtles, said forest officials. Tourists and researchers were denied entry to witness the natural heritage, as the unmanned island is located near the Wheeler’s island defence test range centre, a prohibited territory.
“The emergence of hatchlings from egg shells is expected to continue for at least a week. The 1-km beach is apparently littered with newborn hatchlings. The babies were jostling for space on the beach to loiter around before their final plunge into the seawater,” said divisional forest officer of the Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division Manoj Kumar Mahapatra.
It is a rare visual treat as the newborns generated hissing noises thus creating a soothing cacophony.
Later, they made a beeline for the sea. No wildlife researcher made it to the place this time to witness the rare natural phenomenon because of prohibition on entry to the place.
“Nearly two million hatchlings have emerged out of pits in the past 24 hours. The process of turtle birth is expected to continue for a few more days,” Mahapatra said.
An estimated 1.68 lakh turtles had arrived en masse to lay eggs, a phenomenon otherwise called arribada in Spanish, earlier in the second week of March. There was considerable delay in the arrival of turtles this year.
After the eggs are incubated under natural process, the hatchlings come out after a hiatus of 45 to 55 days.