asheshr

Super User
Olive Ridley - Arribada

Olive ridley nesting at gokurkuda beach near rushikuly river mouth 2018 (49 of 440).jpg

Turtles laying the eggs.

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Returning to the sea

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I did not know of the name Olive Ridley when I first saw the turtles in the early nineties. We were on a picnic to Chandrabhaga beach near Puri where I first saw them in plastic containers.
It was a wow moment for all of us to see them. There were 3-4 of them, probably sick as they were swimming a bit lopsided. Later, read about them in the newspapers of them coming for
nesting.

The next encounter with them on the beaches of Puri when the dead turtles would have washed ashore after being caught in a fishing net. Many of them rotting and would be creating
an awful smell. And because of this and unknown to us, but quite a few wild life warriors would be fighting on the side of the turtles with the owner of fishing trawlers to stop the killing. The
main culprit being trawlers and line fishing and not the traditional fishermen.

Every year there would be an uproar during the mating seasons about the dead turtles turning up on the beach and the govt. not doing anything about it. Later the waters were patrolled to
stop the fishermen from fishing during the breeding season. But still dead turtles do turn up on the beach every year. Even this year.

The urge to witness the Arribida(Mass nesting) was there. But reports always appeared after the event had happened. Tried a few contacts over the years but the effort was zero. Then a few
years ago saw some post on facebook by friends who had visited, but the time had passed so did another year. Same thing happened the next year but no one was telling me the exact date
and time these turtles would come to nest or hatch.

Then this I met a fellow rider Rudra at a ride he is wildlife official. And a few weeks after meeting him I saw his post where he had gone and witnessed the mass nesting near Rushikulya
river mouth near a village named as Gokurkuda. I immediately called him up asking about the timings and the route. On getting the details, I finalised the trip. Took a car and hired a driver
because the nesting happens at night and there is no place to stay near the nesting beach & it's around 360kms round trip from Cuttack. Left Cuttack at 2am.

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Making its way towards the sea.

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The turtle hatching are fighting for survival even before the eggs are laid. As a next turtle might come and dig its nest on the same spot as the previous one and scooping up the eggs. These
times are a boon to many a predators like kites, crows, jackal, crabs and big fishes who feast on the eggs and the hatching.

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A nest destroyed during high tide.
In one of the posts will highlight this.

The hatching's happens after around 45 days after the eggs are laid. Odisha has three Arribada(mass nesting) sites. They are Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, Gokurkuda
at Rushikulya river mouth and at Astaranga on the Devi river mouth. Gahirmatha is the biggest and Astaranga no longer has mass breeding, its only sporadic.

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Olive ridley nesting at gokurkuda beach near rushikuly river mouth 2018 (134 of 440).jpg
 

Gunin

Well-Known Member
Wow! such lovely snaps. I especially love the last one. Will keep this place in mind when I go to Odisha.
 

mousourik

Who Am I
Knew that it happens at Rushikulya confluence. But it was not known when it takes place, how to go etc. Lack of staying option deterred from enquiring further about it.

Nice report.
 

asheshr

Super User
After 45days when the eggs were about to hatch again got a opportunity to go, but this time as a volunteer through Emergency Response for Olive Ridely Hatchlings
a part of ERN. Again thank to Rudra. We were given an induction about the Turtles and the do's and don'ts. Again we had to reach early in the morning before sunrise.
Most of the volunteers went on the bus commandeered by the ERN team. While I went in a car with my mom and son.

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We reached there early by around 4.30 am much before the sunrise. It was a total blackout at the camp for the turtles tend to go toward the light even if towards the opposite side.
Neighboring Highway though a few kms from the beach have enough vehicles plying on it to casting a light and drawing the hatchling towards it.

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Something moving around in the dark

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Heading out at first light

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Waiting for a meal

Teams were formed and buckets handed out as the first rays popped out. Around 40 volunteers fanned out on the beach picking up hatchling and putting them in the buckets.
Attracted by the lights many hatching were quite far from the beach. Many were caught in discarded nets or caught in thorny bushes and all kinds of junk. It was our job to pick them up
and put them them near the shore. A point to be noted that they should be put on the sand a few meters from water and not directly into the sea because it said it helps them when
they grow up and to return to the same beach to lay their eggs where they were born.

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Team at work

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Caught in a fishing net

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Being rescued

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Off you go into the big blue.

It is important to note that we had to work fast because after 8 am any baby turtles caught in the open had zero chances of survival because they cannot survive the heat.

We wound up around 8.30 am and were thanked by the DFO. Also visited a small information center put up there.

A point to note that the kids from the village also helped. Even during the egg laying kids would collect the scooped up eggs and dig a hole around 2 feet deep and deposit the eggs.
 
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