KENDRAPARA: Beach erosion on Odisha coast has failed to dampen the spirit of the Olive Ridley sea turtles to arrive here in a large number for their annual mass nesting. Despite the fact that the Bay of Bengal has eaten up sizable portion of the geographical boundary of Gahirmatha beach at unmanned Nasi-2 Island, the length of the beach has got elongated following natural accretion phenomenon.
“Although the physical profile of the nesting beach has eroded, Gahirmatha beach continues to be favourite nesting address of the turtles. More than six lakh turtles have so far turned up at this beach to lay eggs,” Rajnagar divisional forest officer Bimal Prasanna Acharya said on Wednesday. Gahirmatha is the world’s largest rookery of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles. Originally, the length of the nesting ground was measured at 1,000 metres while this year it has stretched up to 1,200 metre.
“However the breadth of the beach has got truncated. The nesting ground lacks uniform shape. Its form had got irregular and unbalanced with seawaters inundating into specific patches,” Mr Acharya said. The truncated shape and size of the sandy nesting ground did not pose natural hurdles for mass-nesting of these species. The nesting ground had been fragmented to 12 segments with each segment measuring 100 metre long.
The turtles had preferred the old nesting beach of 1,000 metre long to dig pits and lay eggs. However the newly-formed accreted beach did not attract the delicate marine animals and they skipped the new beach for mass nesting, the official said. In some patches, the edge of the beach facing sea has turned steep and sharp, hindering the turtles to scale the sandy barrier and turn up at the nesting ground to lay eggs. “However the sea animals were sighted getting the better of the natural barriers to crawl unto the beach to indulge in instinctive mass nesting,” said a Gahirmatha forest range officer Subrat Patra.