Olive Ridley Turtles Damage Eggs At The Nesting Ground

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Kendrapara: Several million turtle eggs have been destroyed ironically by the turtles themselves at the nesting ground at Gahirmatha beach, much to the worry of wildlife officials.

It’s not predators like jackals or hyenas who are the destroyers. It’s the turtles who have extensively damaged the eggs incidentally laid by them.

The nesting ground at the idyllic Gahirmatha Island has re-established itself as the world’s largest known rookery of Olive Ridley turtles with 6.67 lakh Olive Ridley turtles converging on the sandy beach for mass nesting; the dismantling of eggs by the marine animals has triggered a disturbing trend.

There has been large congregation of female turtles for en-masee laying of eggs. But turtles were found destroying nests laid earlier by breeding turtles, said Assistant Conservator of Forest, G. Anand Kumar.

The idyllic nesting ground of Olive Ridley sea turtles at outer wheelers’ Island had got elongated this year following natural accretion process. It is stretched up to 1.5 Kilo metre now while it’s length was one kilo metre last year. Therefore the beach proved congenial for turtles for mass nesting. However these delicate marine animals were found preferring particular sandy patches for mass nesting. So specific pockets of the nesting ground was overcrowded with turtles, resulting in eggs being destroyed by them animal themselves, said the official.

Since start of mass-nesting, described as ‘arribada’ (a Spanish term used for en masse laying eggs by turtle species) on March 7, the third highest ever congregation of marine species has taken place in unmanned Island with 6.67 lakh turtles turning up for nesting till Monday night. The intensity of mass nesting has come down. We are expecting turtles’ mass nesting for couple of days more, he said.

The marine species might have so far laid over eight to nine crore eggs. However, over three crore eggs have been damaged as per a conservative estimate, the official said.

Though there was ample space in the one-km stretch beach for turtles to lay eggs, they chose specific spots for arribada. As a result, space constraints hit the nesting beach. It has led to damage of eggs.

Though large congregation of turtles this year has made us jubilant, it upsets us to find destruction of eggs on a large scale on the nesting beach.

Millions of eggs were smashed by nesting turtles who loitered around to find a congenial spot to dig pit and lay eggs. The turtles, little knowing the existence of nests, were sighted digging up the spot dismantling the already existing nests and eggs. It’s not possible to stop the destruction of eggs, said the officials.

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