Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, May 7:
Thousands of Olive Ridley hatchlings have started to emerge from sand pits and have begun crawling towards the ocean from Odisha’s Gahirmatha marine sanctuary near Kendrapara.
Locals, however, alleged that hundreds of them not been able to survive. While many fell prey to predators, others were hit by fishing trawlers that roam around the area even after a fishing ban.
Environmentalist, on the other hand, pointed out that the arrival of Olive Ridley turtles to Gahirmatha drastically decreased this year as compared to last year. Same goes with the number of hatchlings released.
“While more than 4.5 million hatchlings went to the sea last year, so far only 76,400 hatchlings have begun their seaward journey this year. Shortage of space in the beach, coastal erosion and climate change add to the worry, said Jagannath Das, an environmentalist.
Even though Forest Department sources presented a different set of numbers, overall scenario still appears to be grim.
“Last year more than 4.6 million hatchlings reached the sea last year. This year, more than 70,000 hatchlings have reached the sea. Overall, the number is expected to be around 1 lakh. The weather was unfavourable.The number of turtles that arrived here was less and so was the number of eggs laid. That is the reason, we see a drastic fall in number of hatchlings around here,” said Shatrughna Tarai.
“We have deployed special protection staff and APR to ensure their safety. Senior officials are also directly supervising the operations. We have seized 45 trawlers and forwarded 240 accused to court,” he added speaking about the actions taken by the government to ensure the safety of Olive Ridley hatchlings.