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Gahirmatha island sets new Ridleys’ nesting records

Statesman News Service | Kendrapara |

The nesting ground at the idyllic Gahirmatha Island has re-established itself as the world’s largest known rookery of Olive Ridley turtles with 6.57 lakh female turtles virtually invading the serene beach since past five days to lay eggs.

A new mass nesting record is likely to be registered this time as en-masse laying of eggs by the marine animals is likely to continue to four to five days more.

On 10 March, as many as 2.23 lakh turtles turned at the beach to lay eggs, which is a new record of largest congregation of turtles in a single day, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.

The highest record of mass nesting was registered in 2001 with 7,41,000 turtles while the second best was 7,11,000 turtles in 2000. This year the spectacular natural phenomenon is still continuing and is expected to last for at least three to four days further.

Given the intensity of the mass nesting, a new record in terms of number of turtles’ arrival to Gahirmatha is likely to be created this year. Last year, 6.04 lakh turtles had turned for mass nesting, official said.

The idyllic nesting ground of Olive Ridley sea turtles at outer wheelers’ Island had got elongated following natural accretion process. Therefore the beach proved congenial for turtles for mass nesting.

It’s only the female turtles that crawled onto the nesting beach after the sunset for laying eggs, the phenomenon otherwise described as ‘arribada’.

After indulgence in instinctive egg-laying, the turtles leave the nesting ground to stride into the deep sea water. Hatchlings emerge from these eggs after 45-60 days.

It is a rare natural phenomenon where the babies grow without their mother, said officials. An Olive Ridley usually lays about 120 to 150 eggs from which hatchlings emerge. But not all eggs remain intact as predators devour it.