State’s coast has turn out to be a most well-liked nesting floor for Olive Ridley sea turtles listed as susceptible species by world conservation physique and correct protecting measures will guarantee a secure zone for them
Sometime within the early a part of 1976, Dr HR Bustard, a world professional on turtles and crocodiles, found a mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles at Gahirmatha in Odisha. Subsequently, one other mass nesting location was present in Rushikulya, additionally in Odisha. This was the primary time that Olive Ridley nesting sample was identified and researchers began to work on it.
Just a few years later, within the early Eighties, for the primary time mature Olive Ridley turtles have been seen crawling onto RK Beach to discover a appropriate nesting spot. The researchers within the Zoology Department, Andhra University, plunged into it and since then they’ve been monitoring the nesting sample of the turtles which have been categorized as ‘Vulnerable species’ by the IUCN Red List.
Today, there are about six sporadic Olive Ridley nesting spots alongside the coast of Visakhapatnam district from Pudimadaka within the south to Bheemunipatnam within the east.
Discovering the Olive Ridley at RK Beach was an enormous factor for us. But not like Gahirmatha or Rushikulya, that are mass nesting facilities and so they (turtles) are available hundreds, Visakhapatnam is a sporadic nesting middle, the place they arrive in a whole lot, says Professor Emeritus Bharata Lakshmi from the Zoology Department of Andhra University.
The Olive Ridley turtles that come to Visakhapatnam for nesting have their habitat within the Pacific Ocean or Indian Ocean. Their mating time is 40 to 45 days and thereafter the males return to their habitat, whereas females come for nesting. They typically search for white seashores with a slope or gradient and that’s how the seashores alongside the Visakhapatnam coast present them a pure setting, she explains.
They are migratory species and their breeding space and residing space are totally different. The mature females return to their residing space after the nesting interval, she provides.
In Visakhapatnam, there are about six nesting spots positioned in areas resembling Naval Coast Battery, RK Beach, Pudimadaka, Jodugullapalem and Bheemunipatnam, says Pradeep Nath of the Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals (VSPCA).
Every nesting middle is entrusted to 4 volunteers, who scout the 4 km radius from the protected space every day throughout the nesting interval which is usually from November to March, and the height being from January to February-end.
The mature feminine turtles come to the shore throughout excessive tide and lay the eggs. “Once they are seen, we approach the nest after the mother leaves; we then gather the eggs scientifically and they are relaid in the protected areas. It takes about 45 to 60 days for the eggs to hatch and then we release the hatchlings into the sea, says Mr. Pradeep.
According to Prof. Bharata Lakshmi, each turtle lays 100 to 150 eggs and 80 to 90 of them hatch successfully. But the survival rate for the hatchlings at sea is said to be 1 out of every 1,000.
On the rise
In 1996, when the VSPCA initiated the protection program with the government, there were about 23 nests. In 2019-20, the nests have gone up to 811. About 74,932 eggs were laid and 64,030 hatchlings released into the sea. “The success fee is round 85.4% by in situ safety,” says Mr. Pradeep.
Both are of the opinion that the nesting has been on the rise and will continue to increase in the future due to the ‘Imprint’ factor.
Elaborating the ‘Imprint’ factor, Prof. Bharata Lakshmi says, “It has been confirmed that the place of nesting will get imprinted into the hatchlings. And as soon as they turn out to be mature after 15 or 20 years, they arrive again to the identical place of their nesting. Keeping this thoughts, if the nesting began in early Eighties, then this has been the issue for elevated nesting alongside the Vizag coast through the years and it’ll enhance within the coming years as extra hatchlings will turn out to be mature. “
Need for protection
Mr. Pradeep says the government should step up its initiative to protect the nesting sites, primarily from human intervention. “This 12 months, the nesting outcome has been good as throughout March-April we had the lockdown as a result of COVID-19 and turtle-human interplay was very much less,” he remarks.