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Undisturbed mass nesting of Olive Ridleys at Rushikulya

Olive Ridley turtles

Approx Read Time: 5 minutes

In News:

  • Restrictions in place for the COVID-19 threat are saving lakhs of Olive Ridley turtles from possible disturbance by humans, especially tourists, while they are continuing mass nesting at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery.

News Summary:

  • Every year, thousands of Olive Ridley turtles nest at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery in Ganjam district, at the mouth of river Rushikulya.
  • Olive Ridleys began mass nesting at the Rushikulya rookery this year from March 21.
  • According to the Forest Department’s enumeration, about 2.8 lakh turtles nested at this coast till so far this year.
  • As a large number of turtles are still in the sea near this coast, mass nesting is expected to continue for some more nights.

About: Olive Ridley Turtles

  • The Olive ridley turtle is the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles, named for the generally greenish color of its skin and shell, or carapace.
  • Olive ridleys are found only in warmer waters, including the southern Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • It is best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, which is a mass-nesting event when thousands of female turtles come together on the same beach each year to lay eggs.
  • The olive ridley is mostly carnivorous, feeding on such creatures as jellyfish, snails, crabs, and shrimp.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Olive Ridley turtles

Threats:

  • Unfriendly fishing practices.
  • Development and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centres.
  • Poaching for their meat, shell and leather.
  • Accidental killing of adult turtles through entanglement in trawl nets and gill nets.
Olive Ridley turtles
Olive Ridley turtles

Free from human interference:

  • This event normally attracts hundreds of people to the spot, with Forest Department personnel spending considerable time and effort in controlling the crowd.
  • But this year, their nesting activity is undisturbed by the humans, especially tourists, due to restrictions in place for the COVID-19 threat.

Steps taken to help nesting:

  • As per the officials, proper maintenance of cleanliness and provision of protection to the turtles at sea since November 2019, when the turtles mate, are major reasons for the large scale mass nesting at Rushikulya this year.
  • This year, the beach received a thorough cleaning long before the mass nesting commenced.
  • The Forest Department also set up 11 off-shore camps early this year to monitor the beach.
  • Also, two speed boats and a country boat are being used by the Forest Department to patrol the sea, in order to prevent fishing trawlers from plying along the coast.

Also Read: 2000 samples show no community transmission yet

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