Coronavirus Lockdown: Endangered Olive Ridley Sea Turtles Start Nesting at Odisha’s Gahirmatha Beach and Rushikulya Rookery In India.
Amidst the 21-day lockdown (credited to coronavirus) in India, the endangered species i.e. “Olive Ridley (Sea turtles)” have arrived at Odisha’s Gahirmatha Beach and the six-kilometre-long Rushikulya Rookery for nesting. These areas have been most preferred by the Olive Ridleys in the past and this year, these grounds saw lakhs of them.
Number Of The Nesting Olive Ridleys
According to a news report published in an Indian Media outlet, eggs have been laid by 3.7 lakh Olive Ridleys in Rushikulya Rookery. Besides this, another 4.2 lakh Olive Ridleys have appeared at Gahirmatha Beach to lay eggs till now. “Over 6 crore eggs will be laid this year,” the report added.
Forest Department Personnel claimed that this year has seen the highest number of Olive Ridleys. They said;
“Every alternate year is either a bad year or a good year. However, in the last two years we have seen a phenomenal increase in nesting numbers. This year we have estimated that at least 4.75 lakh turtles came on to nest on Rushikulya beach.”
It is to note that in 2019, Olive Ridleys did not mass-nest in Rushikulya, As opposed to this, in 2018, “double mass nesting” happened in February and April, with nesting figures coming up above 4.73 lakh.
Contribution Of The Coronavirus Lockdown
Mother Nature recovering in different ways due to coronavirus has become a worldwide trend now. Ranging from the pollution levels greatly decreasing in multiple countries to the marine life returning in the canals of Venice, there’s no doubt that the pandemic has had positive effects on the environment.
The 21-day lockdown has ensnared the people of India in their homes. According to the Forest Department, people normally gather in large numbers to watch the sea turtles. Due to this, the authorities usually have to waste a lot of time and effort to keep the crowds of tourists and locals under control.
But this year, all of this hassle has been avoided as people cannot visit the coasts to see the Olive Ridleys due to the lockdown. Though, turtle researchers and environmentalists have been allowed to visit the nesting spots. Consequently, saving the sea turtles from any possible intrusion so that they are able to lay their eggs in peace; undisturbed.
Measures Taken By The Authorities For Undisturbed Nesting
The authorities in India have taken many measures to ensure that the Olive Ridleys are able to lay their eggs in peace. Long before the beginning of the mass nesting, the grounds received thorough and regular cleaning. Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Amlan Nayak, claimed that two trawlers, two speedboats and a country boat have been set up at the nesting grounds. This is to prevent any fishing trawlers from travelling along the coast.
Besides all of this, the Forest Department also established 11 off-shore camps to examine the beach early this year. This was to keep an eye on and prevent any wild predators that might try to intrude on the Sea Turtle’s nesting.
As per the Odisha Wildlife Organisation (OWO), Olive Ridley turtles are an endangered species. Moreover, around 50 per cent of the total population of these sea turtles come to Odisha’s coast to lay eggs every year. With the passage of time, these Olive Ridleys can grow to be as big as 2 feet; weighing up to 50 kilos!