New Delhi (Sputnik) — Mass nesting by olive ridley turtles — an endangered species — has broken all previous records, as the number of the small sea creatures thronging the Rushikulya rookery coast in India's eastern state of Odisha is unusually high this year.
Forest officials tasked with the responsibility of keeping an eye on smugglers has said that the number of nests has already exceeded 450,000 and is expected to continue increasing for the next two-three days at least.
Last year, according to official estimates, a total of 365,000 nests were laid at Rushikulya. In 2016, for an unknown reason, there was no mass nesting on this coast.
Every year, between the months of November and April, olive ridley turtles visit the beaches along the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean to nest. Environmentalists said that this year, sea waves and winds have widened a portion of the beach near the Rushikulya rookery, leading to such a huge number of turtles nesting.
Meanwhile, after locals posted a picture on social media showing tourists and media persons trying to get too cozy with this endangered species, the Forest and Environment Department of Odisha took action against those seen disturbing the gentle creatures.
Who allows this kind of touristic fun during #OliveRidley #turtles nesting season? By torturing the marine species which happens to be #Odisha Govt's sports mascot #Olly? @CMO_Odisha @ForestDeptt @NewIndianXpress pic.twitter.com/1ecsVapZ6F— Siba Mohanty (@Siba_TNIE) February 26, 2018
"This is very unfortunate. Forest officials should intensify patrolling drives and ensure disturbance-free mating of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles," Dilip Ray, member of the Odisha Legislative Assembly and former Union Minister of Steel, Coal and Parliamentary Affairs told the media.
The olive ridleys are listed as a "vulnerable" species in the "Red List" maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. They are also protected under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.