Olive Ridley sea turtles have been returning to the shores of India every season for their synchronized nesting in mass numbers. The female turtles reportedly return to the same beach from where they hatched, to lay their eggs. And the coast of Odisha is the largest mass nesting site for them. However, human intrusion and the piles of waste on the coast has kept them from nesting in 2019, reported The Hindu.
But since the coronavirus pandemic has forced people to stay at home, the Gahirmatha beach and the rookeries in Rushikulya in Odisha has welcomed more than 8 lakh Olive Ridleys to the state, reported New Indian Express.
ARRIBADA ~Spanish Word – means 'Arrival' 🐢
Refers to mass-nesting event when 1000s of Turtles come ashore at the same time to lay eggs on the same beach.
Interestingly, females return to the very same beach from where they first hatched, to lay their eggs.
🏖️ Olive Ridley Turtle pic.twitter.com/dvzslqA8zW
— Ankit Kumar, IFS (@AnkitKumar_IFS) March 26, 2020
The endangered turtles have returned to dig nests and lay eggs as tourists and locals stay away from the coast allegedly due to the lockdown.
Thousands of olive ridley turtles nesting on the beaches of Odisha.
Their normal predators (humans) are in quarantine.
This season, their numbers will explode in the oceans.
There is a silver lining in this dark cloud after all. pic.twitter.com/l0DMLbGp4l
— AJ (@DrAshJac) March 26, 2020
— Soumyajit Pattnaik (@soumyajitt) March 25, 2020
According to the Forest Department, over 2,78,502 mother turtles have nested at this coast till Wednesday morning. Over 72,142 Olive Ridleys have arrived at the beach to dig nests and lay eggs, reports The Hindu
Since the mass nesting period is over at Gahirmatha, it is continuing at the rookery. According to estimates, around six crore eggs will be laid this year.
People often used to crowd the spot to witness the turtles, but this time the babies will be safe from human intrusion. It will also lead to undisturbed nesting of the turtles, therefore increasing the number of tiny hatchlings.
The Berhampur divisional forest officer, Ashish Kumar Behera said, “Every alternate year is either a bad year or a good year. However, in the last two years, we have seen a phenomenal increase in nesting numbers. This year we have estimated that at least 4.75 lakh turtles came on to nest on Rushikulya beach.”
"Positive Impact of Coronavirus " As the restriction imposed on mankind to stay at home & maintain the cleanliness, helped Olive Ridley Turtle to ashore for mass nesting in broad daylight at Gokhurkuda in Ganjam district pic.twitter.com/CuqxRFARTj
— Tanmay Das (@tanmay__das) March 22, 2020
The Forest department in the state has taken necessary precaution and have hired trawlers and speed boats to keep a check on the tiny turtles, preventing them from fish trawlers.
A Rare albino Olive Ridley. A forest guard watches over the beach..quiet, undisturbed, closer to what it may have been like millions of yrs ago. Pic: rabindranathsahu #turtles #Odisha @JustSeaTurtles @turtles @turtles_talk_back @ParveenKaswan@susantananda3 @ORP_INDIANOCEAN pic.twitter.com/ZJriMSk7YB
— Gautam Pandey (@RiverbankStudio) March 25, 2020
Earlier, swans and dolphins returned to Italy, as air, water quality improved during the lockdown. Even dolphins were spotted off Mumbai shores as the city stood still during the 1-day ‘Janata Curfew’. The clear blue sky was also seen during the lockdown. While these are indeed good news, it does highlight how human presence is a grave impediment to nature.