Sea erosion eats into Olive Ridley Turtles' space

Sea erosion eats into Olive Ridley Turtles' space

The nesting ground was now teeming with female turtles. But the beach close to the Wheelers Island defence installation project was severely truncated by sea erosion.

The decimated beach was bereft of adequate land areas to accommodate such a large number of marine visitors at a time, forest officials said today.

There was hardly any space left on the sandy beach for female turtles to lay eggs. Earlier this month, 1.87 lakh turtles had arrived en-masse here and dug out nests along the beach occupying almost the whole of the beach area, said Prasanna Kumar Behera, divisional forest officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division.

''We are facing a crisis of sorts following fresh influx of turtles in the ongoing second phase of mass nesting of these species. Nearly 1.53 lakh more turtles have again turned up to lay eggs. Never before, had such a large number of turtles invaded the beach in second phase of mass nesting,'' he said.

Though they come in large number, the space was not adequate to accomodate the marine animals to lay eggs, he said. The marauding sea has altered the geographical contour of the nesting ground and sea erosion has reduced the unmanned island to about 900 metre length and 90 metre width.

"We are concerned about the safety of eggs earlier laid in millions of nests dug out by breeding turtles during the first phase of mass nesting. Each nest contains to 40 to 50 eggs," he informed. The forest personnel guarding the nesting ground were helpless as turtles during the course of laying eggs cause damage to eggs tucked inside the earlier built nests, said the officials.

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