Gahirmatha beach gets elongated

6 Mar 2019

The Gahirmatha beach in Odisha, which is currently playing host to lakhs of female olive ridley turtles for their annual mass nesting, has got elongated to 2.6 km stretch following natural accretion process, Forest officials said.
The beach at the unmanned Nasi-2 Island of Gahirmatha in Kendrapara district provides perfect and congenial ambience for the nocturnal visitors to lay eggs because of the elongation of its profile, said Srirampada Arabinda Mishra, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division. The beach has become a favourite nesting address of the turtles and as many as 4.63 lakh turtles have so far converged on the beach for mass nesting, a unique natural heritage that commenced on February 27, he said.
Its natures gift to marine animals as the beach which often encounters battering of sea waves and resultant erosion has got longer by 2,600 metres. In past years, length of the nesting ground was measured at 1,200 metres, he said. However, the breadth of the beach has got truncated in some portions. The nesting ground lacks uniform shape in some patches. Still the beach has got back to its perfect shape and length for hassle-free mass nesting of ridley species, said Mishra. Incidentally the nesting beach now comes under the administrative control of Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO)-run Test range centre. Therefore, it is kept out of bounds for visitors. The Forest department is carrying out the turtle conservation work at the island with due permission from competent authorities, the official said.
Several million turtle eggs were destroyed ironically by the turtles themselves at the nesting ground at Gahirmatha beach because of space constraint at the nesting ground in 2018. The turtles were found destroying nests laid earlier by breeding turtles. But this time, no such disturbing trend was noticed as turtles found ample space to dig pits and lay eggs. Strong southernly winds and atmospheric temperature ranging from 32 to 38 degree Celsius are conducive for turtles mass nesting. This year, everything was perfect leading to virtual invasion of turtles to the nesting ground, said the forest official.
Its only the female turtles that invade the nesting beaches usually at the dead of the night for laying eggs, the phenomenon otherwise described as arribada in Spanish. After indulgence in instinctive egg-laying, the turtles leave the nesting ground to stride into the deep sea water. Hatchlings emerge from these eggs after 45-60 days. It is a rare natural phenomenon where the babies grow without their mother, said officials. (PTI)a