- Endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles have returned to Odisha’s Rushikulya hatchery this year.
- The sea turtles are able to engage in day-time mass nesting without throngs of people coming to observe them, due to the lockdown.
- So far, over 70,000 Olive Ridleys arrived at the rookery.
- Follow the comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact, and other useful resources that can help you in the fight on Business Insider India.
Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery is
where the endangered Olive Ridley comes to dig nests and lay eggs. After last
year’s no-show, the sea turtles have returned to the state’s coast this year.
According to the Forest Department, over 70,000 Olive Ridleys arrived to take part in the unusual event of day-time mass nesting. Normally, throngs of people — tourists and locals — generally show up to watch the sea turtles and authorities have to deploy considerable resources to keep them away from the habitat.
However, this year, due to the nationwide 21-day lockdown, turtles are largely left undisturbed.
The Olive Ridley’s fight for survival
Every year, the Forest Department creates hatcheries along the Indian coast. Once nesting is completed, it releases the hatchlings into the sea.
Last year, this entire process was delayed due to Cyclone Titli. In fact, no Olive Ridley’s showed up in Rushikulya. The hatcheries, which were restored — in Koozhaiyar, Kottagaimedu and other locations — had to delay their entire process due to after effects of the cyclone.
This year, the state cleaned cyclone debris, and prepped hatcheries for the turtles in hope that they would return.
At least 50% of the world population of Olive Ridley turtles arrives at the state’s coasts for nesting, according to the Odisha Wildlife Organisation (OWO).
Making sure the eggs survive the nesting period, the Forest Department ropes in fishermen and volunteers to keep dogs and other predators at bay. Even if eggs grow into hatchlings, they have to face the odds against the ocean. The little critters are a meal ticket for birds and crabs.
The bigger threat comes from fishing boats which accidentally catch hatchings in their nets. This year, the Forest Department deployed two trawlers and a country boat to monitor the ocean and keep fishing vessels at bay.
Over time, Olive Ridleys can grow to be as big at 2 feet in size and weigh up to 50 kilos.