Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhadrak, May 25:
The Babubali island of Gahirimatha near Dhamra in Odisha’s Bhadrak district has turned into a graveyard for olive ridley turtles, one of the endangered species. Over 14,000 olive ridley turtles have died in the region in the last five years, reports said.
However, the Forest Department is yet to ascertain the reason behind the large scale death of the turtles. A survey report reveals that rapid change in environmental conditions and polluted sea water have led to the mass deaths.
Every year, lakhs of olive ridley turtles arrive at Gahirimatha beach to lay eggs. As many as 4.35 lakh turtles had approached the beach in the year 2014-15, out of which 4,000 died. Similarly, 4.50 lakh turtles came to the beach in 2013-14 but 5,000 of them died. Though measures have been taken for protection of the turtles, they are confined on papers only.
Environmentalists opine that missile tests conducted from Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, in Dhamra have affected the sea water negatively. Radiations emitting during the tests penetrate sea water harming the marine flora and fauna, including olive ridley turtles.
On the other hand, illegal fishing in the region have supplemented the death of the turtles. Many turtles get trapped in the nets meant for fishing and end their lives in the process, reports said.
Though fishing has been banned in the area, irresponsibleness of Forest Department officials in their duty have facilitated local fishermen to dare for fishing in the region. Environmentalists have expressed serious concern over the matter and demanded strict enforcement of the ban in order to ensure protection of the endangered olive ridley turtles.