Kendrapara, Nov 6:
With the sighting of Olive Ridley turtles in the deep waters of Gahiramatha Marine Sanctuary, the forest officials have confirmed the arrival of the endangered species for mass mating and nesting.
Besides, the forest personnel have also spotted sporadic nesting at certain places along the Gahiramatha beach.
“As many as four female nests were sighted at Dobandi beach between Pentha and Chinchiri mouth”, said Rajnagar Mangrove Forest and Wildlife Division DFO Kedar Swain.
“We were apprehensive about the delayed arrival of the Ridley turtles this year due to the effects of Cyclone Phailin. But with the sighting of a turtle at the deep sea and four nests at the coast, we are now confident that the mass nesting and breeding would take place as usual,” the DFO added.
The Ridley turtles, which are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, are usually found off the shores of the Bay of Bengal between October last week and November first week while the mating pairs are generally found in mid-November.
The Bhitarakanika forest officials have imposed a ban on fishing activities 20 km off the shore inside the sanctuary limits from November 1, 2012 to May 31 last for the protection of these turtles during the mass nesting.
The Forest department has sought help from the Coast Guard, Marine police and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to conduct surveillance in and around the Wheeler Island so as to save the turtles from the illegal trawlers.
The officials have set up two off shore camps at Babubali and Agarnashi while more than 14 onshore camps are under construction in several places from Dhamara to Devi mouth.
“This year, the forest officials are organizing several meetings at the fishing jetties and fishermen’s villages to create awareness on turtle protection” the DFO informed.