Sand bar hope for turtles near Rushikulya river
A new sand bar created near the Rushikulya river mouth has brought new hope for olive ridley turtles. This new sand bar was created last month as the gushing floodwater of Rushikulya river entered into the sea in two streams near the mouth after incessant rain due to the severe cyclonic storm ‘Titli’ last month.
The new sand bar just looks like an island is about 200 meters away from the coastline of Rushikulya nesting site. It is 50 feet to 200 feet wide. Interestingly, one mother olive Ridley laid 131 eggs on that sand bar beach recently though tonnes of debris were deposited there. “We have collected all these eggs and kept them in the artificial hatchery in Purunabandha,” said Berhampur divisional forest officer Ashis Kumar Behera.
The debris include large quantities of autumn grass (popularly known as ‘Kasatandi’ in Odia) straw, weeds, uprooted trees, plastic, polythene and many others accumulated on the six-km stretch of sandy beach near the river mouth.
“The cleaning process inside the sand bar and the entire 6-km stretch of sandy beach is on the last stage. We have deployed 3 excavator machines and 20 staff in the cleaning process. Ninety percent work has already been completed. The debris inside the sand bar are being brought to the shore through boats and we hope a very good mass nesting on the sand bar beach this season, ' said the DFO.
Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee (RSTPC) secretary Rabindranath Sahu said: “If the ridleys choose the island or the newly created sand bar for mass nesting, we have to go to the island by boat to look after the sea turtles. I hope that Rushikulya Rookery is still favourable for mass nesting of the olive ridley turtles”.
It is usually from the beginning of November to the end of January that hundreds of turtles congregate on the sea beach for mating. Mass nesting of olive ridley surpassed all records as the number touched 4, 82,091 and it occurred twice during 2018 as it was conducive for nesting.