Turtle arrival record

The mass nesting of the endangered olive ridley turtles ( Lepidochelys olivacea) has crossed all records in Rushikulya rookery this year with the arrival of 4,45,091 turtles on the eighth day on Tuesday night.

By Sunil Patnaik in Berhampur
  • Published 1.03.18
  •  
An olive ridley turtle in Rushikulya rookery. Picture by Gopal Krushna Reddy

Berhampur: The mass nesting of the endangered olive ridley turtles ( Lepidochelys olivacea) has crossed all records in Rushikulya rookery this year with the arrival of 4,45,091 turtles on the eighth day on Tuesday night.

"The mass nesting is still on and may last for one more day or two," said divisional forest officer (DFO), Berhampur, Ashis Kumar Behera. He added that this was a record in Rushikulya in the last one-and-a-half decade.

The arrival and mass nesting of the turtles started here on February 20. Some 2.01 lakh turtles had arrived here in 2004, followed by 89,000 in 2005, 1.98 lakh in 2006, 1.80 lakh in 2008, 2.61 lakh in 2009, 1.56 lakh in 2010, 2.53 lakh in 2011, 1.01 lakh in 2012, 2.86 lakh in 2013, 59,000 in 2014, 3.09 lakh in 2015, only 1,712 in 2016 and 3.70 lakh in 2017. In 2007, no turtles had come to Rushikulya.

The Rushikulya rookery is considered as one of the most preferred locations for nesting of these rare species in the world.

Another interesting feature of the mass nesting this year is that the turtles preferred their nesting towards the north of the Rushikulya river mouth up to Bateswar.

Explaining what may have prompted the mass nesting northwards, Behera said a two-kilometre-long sandbar emerged at the mouth of Rushikulya river near Purunabandha which is located more than 200 metres inside the sea near the coast preventing fresh water from the river from entering the sea directly.

Earlier, there were apprehensions that this sandbar might have a negative impact on nesting on this coast. But the water from the river obstructs in the sandbar and flows northwards in the sea.