Three-crore baby turtles head out to sea

 Back to freedom:  A boy helps a newly-hatched baby Olive ridley turtle enter the sea, at the Rushikulya river mouth beach at Ganjam in Orissa on Tuesday. AP  “We are  happy  that this season the Gahirmatha beach witnessed birth of more than three crore baby olive ridley turtles which is one of the highest in the last ten years,” N K Mohapatra, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Rajnagar, Kendrapara district,  told Deccan Herald on Tuesday.

The entire process—baby turtle hatchlings coming out of the eggs buried under the sand on the beach and slowly heading towards the sea—took place for eight days between April 15 and 25. About 3.6 lakh olive ridley turtles had congregated in the  beach in February this year to lay their eggs. Mohapatra said  the forest department officials,  volunteers as well as other agencies like the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO),  which has its missile testing centre at Wheelers Island located near the  beach, took extra care to ensure favourable atmosphere to facilitate turtle hatching.

 The DRDO on its part had switched off heavy lights of the missile testing centre which usually disturb the turtle hatchling while coming out of the eggs and heading towards the sea on dark nights.

The Rusikulya beach in southern Orissa Ganjam district which houses the second biggest turtle rookery in the state also witnessed birth of more than one and half crore olive ridley babies two days ago. This season nearly two lakh sea turtles have reached the Rusikulya beach to lay eggs.

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