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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Mar 1

A record number of around 5.85 lakh Olive Ridley sea turtles have laid eggs within a week in the mass nesting process at Gahirmatha sanctuary in Odisha.

Around 5.85 lakh endangered Olive Ridley turtles have laid eggs by February morning at Gahirmatha. This is an all-time record in the past 15 years at the Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, said sources in the forest department.

As the mass nesting process is underway, the number of sea turtles is expected to be part of the process in the coming days.

According to reports, total 31,154 Olive Ridley turtles had laid eggs on February 22, while the number was 1.78 lakh on February 23, 1,27,007 on February 24, 95,032 on February 25, 1,06,215 on February 26 and 46,399 on February 27.

Total 5,84,492 sea turtles had participated in the mass nesting within six days, out of which 5,67,493 had laid eggs at Nasi-2, 16,913 at Nasi-1, 51 at Nasi and 35 Olive Ridley turtles had laid eggs at Agarnasi. Each turtle is laying 100-120
eggs at the beach.

This year, the sanctuary witnessed the highest number of sea turtles as compared to past 15 years. A record number of 7,11,500 turtles and 7.40 lakh turtles had participated in the mass nesting at Gahirmatha in the Super Cyclone year 1999 and 2000 respectively. Later, the number had declined considerably. Only 2,000 Olive Ridley turtles had laid eggs
in 2001-02, while number rose to 75,023 in 2002-03, 2.38 lakh in 2003-04, 2.36 lakh in 2004-05, 2,74,793 in 2005-06, 1,47,726 in 2006-07, 3,121 in 2007-08, 1,67,222 in 2008-09, 3,56,894 in 2009-10, 1,68,011 in 2011-12 and 4,8,351 in 2012-13.

While the sea turtles had not participated in mass nesting at the sanctuary in 2013-14, 4,13,034 had laid eggs in 2014-15 and only 51,748 had participated in the mass nesting process in 2015-16.