In a major crackdown on illegal fishing, 40 sea-going fishermen were arrested from olive ridley turtle concentration zones along the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary Meanwhile female turtles are sighted loitering close to beach near the Gahirmatha seawaters seawater in large number ahead of the mass nesting of these marine animals.

Last year, 6.04 lakh Olive Ridley turtles had turned up for their annual sojourn for mass nesting during March. The female turtles had emerged from the sea to crawl on to the serene beach, dig pits to lay million of eggs. The mass nesting is expected any time from now. The female turtles are found congregating in seawater within a kilometre distance the nesting beach.

The nesting ground at outer Wheelers’ Island of Gahirmatha is perfectly ideal for nesting with beach getting elongated following natural accretion process. The turtles may arrive enmasse very shortly as beach condition and weather are perfectly ambient now for the natural heritage, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.

In view of the mass nesting, turtle protection patrol on illegal fishing has been intensified. Five deep-sea trawls during a crackdown early morning today with 40 traditional marine fishermen being arrested for illegal fishing within Gahirmatha marine sanctuary seawaters, he said. Since the 1 November fishing prohibition imposed along the Dhamra-Devi river mouth, around 350 sea-going fishermen have been arrested.

Besides 70 trawls were seized for Odisha Marine Fisheries Regulation Act violation, said the official. The Forest Department has deployed two high-speed boats to patrol the marine waters of Gahirmatha sanctuary.

To ensure of safety of endangered sea turtles, 16 patrolling camps have been set up off the coast in Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts. Of them, two are off-shore camps located at Babubali and Agarnashi which come under Kendrapara district.