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Olive Ridleys begin mating

Berhampur, Dec. 25: A large group of endangered Olive Ridley turtles have congregated in the sea near the Rushikulya rookery for mating. Mass nesting of the turtles is expected to take place in the second week of February and authorities will set up cameras along the coast to study the phenomenon.

J.D. Sharma, principal chief conservator of forests, Odisha, S.S. Mishra, divisional forest officer, Berhampur, and other senior officers of the forest department today ventured into the sea near Rushikulya rookery in a patrolling trawler to observe the mating turtles.

“Olive Ridley turtles arrived a few days ago for mating and we hope for good mass nesting this season,” said Rabindranath Sahu, secretary of the Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee, which has initiated efforts for protecting the endangered sea turtles at the Rushikulya rookery.

Youths from Purunabandha village nearby have formed this group. The group was set up in 1998 and most of its members are fishermen. The group works with technical support from many sea turtle experts such as Bivash Pandav, S.K. Dutta, B.C. Choudhury and Basudev Tripathy.

In a related development, scientists of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) New Delhi studied the possibilities of placing cameras on the three-km beach on the Rushikulya rookery to receive systematic data on nesting and to monitor the security of the eggs buried in sand.

Bibhas Pandav of Wildlife of India also visited Gokharkuda recently to study the mass nesting of the turtles. The cameras would be fitted on the coastline near the rookery from February to March, said Rabindranath Sahu.