With humans staying indoors due to the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, nature has begun to flourish. With restricted movement of humans, over eight lakh Olive Ridley turtles have returned to the coasts of Odisha, at the Gahirmatha beach and the rookeries in Rushikulya, for mass nesting.
For the past several years, there were hardly any turtles because of crowds, ships, and constant human intervention.
These turtles are rare, and are known for coming to Indian shores and Odisha's coast for mass nesting, every nesting season.
Thousands of olive ridley turtles nesting on the beaches of Odisha.— Dr. Ashley Jacob (@DrAshJac) March 26, 2020
Their normal predators (humans) are in quarantine.
This season, their numbers will explode in the oceans.
There is a silver lining in this dark cloud after all. pic.twitter.com/l0DMLbGp4l
For laying new eggs, the female turtles usually come back to the same beach where they had earlier hatched. However, The Times Of India reported that in 2019, the presence of humans and a huge amount of waste and garbage led to the coasts not witnessing any nesting.
However, after humans began to lock themselves in their houses this year, the turtles began nesting again. The Forest Department said that till the morning of March 25, Wednesday, as many as 2,78,502 female turtles have nested at the coast.
ARRIBADA ~Spanish Word - means 'Arrival' 🐢— Ankit Kumar, IFS (@AnkitKumar_IFS) March 26, 2020
Refers to mass-nesting event when 1000s of Turtles come ashore at the same time to lay eggs on the same beach.
Interestingly, females return to the very same beach from where they first hatched, to lay their eggs.
🏖️ Olive Ridley Turtle pic.twitter.com/dvzslqA8zW
This year, an estimated 4.75 lakh turtles will come out to nest at the Rushikulya beach alone.
The Odisha Wildlife Organisation (OWO) said that almost 50 percent of the world's population of Olive Ridley turtles come to Odisha's coast for nesting, but it is difficult to make the eggs hatch successfully as they are either eaten up by strays or destroyed by fishing boats. The incubation period of the eggs is 45 days.
Volunteers and fishermen are usually roped in by the forest department to keep the eggs safe. These turtles grow two feet long and weigh nearly 50 kg with time.