For the lovers of turtles, an Indian beach could be a delightful sight.
The newborn Olive Ridley turtles emerge from the pits under the sand of the spectacular Rushikulya Rookery coast and crawl towards the sea in the eastern state of Odisha.
The much awaited mass hatching of the sea creatures began last week at one of the famous major mass nesting sites in the country.
A record number of mother turtles had reached the coast to lay eggs in February and around 30 million baby turtles are expected to come out of the nests in the next week.
“Each nest contains around 100 to 150 eggs and on an average, 80 hatchlings come out of each nest. This means over 30 million hatchlings are expected to come out this year,” said Behrampur Divsional Forest Officer Ashis Behera.
Behera said the mass hatching process was delayed by five to six days due to recent rains in the region but it has not affected the turtles.
Odisha is the mating and nesting ground of 50 percent of the world’s Olive Ridley turtles, the smallest and the most abundant sea turtles.
Each year, adult females crawl from the surf of the Bay of Bengal onto three major nesting sites in the state to dig nests for their ping-pong ball sized eggs.
In a rare natural phenomena, the baby Olive Ridleys grow without their mothers as the female turtles return to the sea, after laying eggs.
“After 40 to 45 days of the laying of eggs by female turtles, two-inch baby turtles hatch and they emerge in a group from their nests in the cool of the night and scurry down the beach to sea water,” said Behera.
As the mass hatching would continue for some days, the forest officers have fenced the entire area to prevent the entry of predators like wild dogs, jackals, hyenas and other animals.
Behera said every alternate year is a favourable year for the turtles in Odisha as their number continuously growing.
“Though we have not conducted any research to find out the reasons about the increase in number of turtles in the area but yes every alternate year is a favourable year for turtle nestling and hatching here,” he said.
“This year over 3,70,000 female turtles arrived at the coast. In 2014, the number was only 59,000,” said Behera.
Even though the number of eggs are impressively growing every year, unfortunately the mortality rate of the baby turtles in the sea is high and out of one thousand only one survives to become an adult.