Ganjam: With the onset of winter, the season for mating and nesting of the Olive Ridleys along the Bay of Bengal coasts has begun. About 60 percent of the Olive Ridley species, known as the Pacific Ridley sea turtle, are found in India of which 90 percent are seen along the coasts of Odisha. The state’s coast is the largest mass nesting site in India.
The three rookeries of Olive Ridleys include the Gahirmatha, Rushikulya and Devi coast. The spectacular site of mass congregation of Olive Ridley sea turtles for mating and nesting enthralls both the scientists and the nature lovers alike throughout the world. Olive Ridley sea turtles migrate in huge numbers from the beginning of November every year for mating and nesting along the coast of Orissa.
Gahirmatha coast has the annual nesting figure between one hundred to five hundred thousand, each year. Olive Ridleys generally begin to aggregate near nesting beaches about two months before nesting season. From the month of June to October, they remain in the coasts of Mumbai and Srilanka in search of food. From Srilanka, it takes around 2 to 30 days for them to reach the coastal areas of Odisha, where lakhs of turtles of both the genders unite for mating. Starting from December the mating season continues till January.
After Makar Sankranti, in the month of January, the change in climatic conditions gets the female turtles out of the sea to the shores. Then with their 1.5 ft long feet the Olive Ridleys dig holes of about 1 ft depth for laying eggs. They usually lay eggs during night. Around 100 to 160 eggs are laid simultaneously. After making the eggs ready for hatching they return back to the sea. The eggs hatch between the last week of February and the second week of March. Environmentalist Rabindra Kumar Sahoo said it takes around 50 to 60 days for the hatchlings to come out of the eggs.
The locals have thus demanded towards the security of the species by taking appropriate measures.