Turning the turtle's fate

Sunday 30 April 1995

ORISSA'S southern coast was recently the scene of hectic activity as thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles nested there en masse. The turtles, which figure in the list of endangered species, nested at the Rushikulya rivermouth in Ganjam district. This spectacular event, when turtles congregate for nesting, is called arribada, or arrival in Spanish.

The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, and the Forest Department of the Orissa government have set up a field research station in Ganjam to study the turtle's behaviour. Care is also being taken to protect the nests laid on the beach. The world's largest sea turtle - lepidochelya ofivacea also nests at the Orissa coast near the l3hitarkanika wildlife sanctuary in Kendrapara district.

As the Rushikulya rivermouth has become a major breeding and nest- ing ground for these turtles, wildlife experts have suggested that this area be declared a wildlife sanctuary or a national park.

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