May 11, 2021: A total of 1.48 crore babies of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles born at Gahirmatha beach of Odisha’s Kendrapara district, officials said on Saturday.
Olive Ridley turtles born at Gahirmatha beach
The uninhabited Gahirmatha island is witnessing the unique natural phenomenon i.e. the birth of baby turtles sans mothers.
“A total of 1.48 crore of baby turtles have broken out of eggshells to mingle in the Gahirmatha seawaters till Thursday, marking the grand culmination of the annual sojourn of Olive Ridley sea turtles to this unmanned Gahirmatha Island,” said Bikash Ranjan Dash, the Divisional Forest Officer of Bhitarkanika Mangrove (Wildlife).
Birth of Olive Ridley turtles at Gahirmatha beach
The birth of the turtles began on April 25 and the annual event has now reached its fag-end, he said.
The babies have emerged from 2.98 lakh nests dug by female turtles to lay eggs at the Nasi-ii Island, close to defence installation at the Wheeler’ Island, Dash said, adding that round-the-clock vigil is being maintained to ensure the safety of the newborns.
After emerging from the nests, the baby turtles loiter on the beach for an hour or so before starting their journey towards the sea, he said.
The endangered turtle species
Olive Ridley sea turtles also, commonly known as the Pacific Ridley sea turtle are the second-smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world. They are primarily found in warm and tropical waters, in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and also in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Gahirmatha beach is widely regarded as the world’s largest nesting ground for these endangered species, and this year, 3.49 lakh female turtles had turned up for mass nesting, a phenomenon called “arribada”.
As the nests were not damaged and remained mostly intact, hatchlings were on the higher side, the official said.
Each female lays around 100 to 120 eggs. Hatchlings emerge out of the eggshells after 45-50 days of the incubation period, he said.