Millions of Olive Ridley hatchlings head out to sea sans mothers
Kendrapara: Emergence of millions of baby Olive Ridley marine turtles along the tranquil Gahirmatha beach has brought cheer to conservationists here.
Wildlife lovers are elated as hatchlings broke out of eggshells and crawled towards their seaward journey in the nesting grounds at Nasi Island.
About 1.68 lakh turtles had arrived at Nasi-2 nesting ground from March 20 to March 28 to lay eggs on the sandy beach.
“Since Saturday night, newborn babies are emerging with mother turtles nowhere in sight. Nasi-2 Island is teeming with baby turtles and wildlife officials of Bhitarkanika National Park stationed at these nesting grounds are the sole witness to this unique natural heritage involving the birth of babies sans mother”, forest officials said.
Tourists and researchers were denied entry to witness it as the unmanned islands are located in close vicinity of Wheeler’s island defence test range centre, a prohibited territory.
“Emergence of hatchlings from egg shells is expected to continue at least for a week. The 1 km beach is virtually littered with newly born hatchlings. The babies are literally jostling for space to move around before their plunge into seawater,” Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, said.
The babies broke out of the shackles of eggshells and wandered aimlessly around the sandy beach for nearly an hour before making their way to seawater, he said.
“Nearly two million hatchlings have emerged out of pits since past 24 hours. The process of turtle birth is expected to continue for few more days,” the DFO said.