The Odisha forest department is all set to add another olive ridley mass nesting site to its wildlife map.
It has started preparing the beach at the Bahuda river mouth in Ganjam district to lure the endangered turtles to come over for mass nesting next year.
Around 3-km stretch of the beach from Sunapur to Anantpur at Bahuda rookery is being developed as a possible olive ridley mass nesting site. The Bahuda rookery is located around 20 km to the south of Rushikulya rookery coast, a major mass nesting site of olive ridleys on the Indian coastline.
Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer Ashis Behera said the Bahuda rookery coast has been cleaned up once already and it will be thoroughly cleaned up again before the start of the mass nesting season in February. “The forest department has decided to fence off around 2-km stretch of the beach near Bahuda river mouth to protect the turtles during the nesting season,” the DFO said.
This year, a few hundred olive ridleys had nested at Bahuda river mouth in February. This encouraged the forest department to develop it as a second mass nesting site for the turtles on the Ganjam coast. At present, mating olive ridleys are being sighted near the Bahuda rookery. It is being hoped that the turtles will find the beach conducive and their mass nesting number at Bahuda will increase in 2019.
Marine fishermen in the area have been requested to refrain from using gill nets during fishing as that can kill the turtles. Fishermen near Rushikulya rookery do not use such nets. With the support of local residents, efforts are being made to reduce polythene pollution caused by tourists and picnickers at Bahuda river mouth to keep the sand clean for mass nesting.
Local fishermen say around two decades ago thousands of olive ridleys used to nest at Bahuda coast, which for some reason diminished with time.