Ever wondered about the Olive Ridley sea turtles’ annual parade to Odisha! From October to early summer, the mass-nesting of these turtles is an amazing sight to behold.
Turtles frequent in large numbers to Gahirmatha Beach – a prime nesting ground. It’s considered a cradle forthe endangered marine species. There’s more reason than one to believe why the coastline of Odisha is their favourite nesting ground.
They have a few synchronised mass-nesting (arribada) places in the world. But the coastlines here happen to be their most favoured destinations above all. Of all major nesting grounds in the state, Gahirmatha, Devi Nadi&Rushikuliya, Gahirmatha is favourite rookery. Olive Ridleys are smallest of all sea turtle species; their name is derived from their heart shaped shell. Weighing between 75-100 pounds, they reach roughly 2 feet in length. Once baby turtles turn adult their grey heart shaped shell turns olive green. They call them the little brave ones here, Olive Ridley babies grow up without their moms around.Olive Ridleys migrate thousands of miles each year where the female turtles lay eggs. Soon the turtlesmysteriously leave the nesting ground to stride in the deep sea. It is only after 45 to 65 days that the eggs begin to hatch, following which the crawling babies make their first trek towards the vast sea. They indeed are really-really brave! It’s heart-breaking asmost babies are not lucky enough to survive their trek. Their journey is mostly treacherous. With accidental killing, preyed upon by the crabs, birds and snakes among others, their protection becomes a major priority. And for the same reason, the coastal state has since many years been rolling out initiatives to protect them. With time people have come together likes the Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee(Rushikulya), for the matters concerning the turtleson the coast. Also, Orissa Marine Resources Conservation Consortium thrives to give them the healthiest breeding environment.
The state had Olive Ridley for their lucky mascot of Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup last year.
By Nidhi Lohia
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