The Olive Ridley turtles come to the eastern Indian state Odisha annually to lay their eggs and they had been swimming up to the shore only at night since 2013.
With people forced to retreat into their homes as multiple countries across the world go into a lockdown, nature has started reclaiming their lands. And a beautiful example of this was a sight of the beaches in India.
Amid a 21-day lockdown imposed in the south Asian country, a surprising phenomenon was observed on the beaches of the east coast in India. The beaches of the eastern state of Odisha are home to the rare Olive Ridley turtles when they come to lay eggs during the spring every year. Thousands of turtles showed up at two beaches in Odisha this year and decided to lay eggs during the day for the first time in seven years.
Local government officials told Mongabay-India that this phenomenon along the Rushikulya rookery was recorded after seven years. "The last time we saw day time nesting of olive ridleys along this site was in 2013. Usually, they come on to the beach for nesting only during the night. This March was special for us as we saw the species visiting the site at night and even during the day, in equally good numbers," said the District Forest Officer (DFO) Amlan Nayak.
Apart from Rushikulya rookery, the turtles have shown up in big numbers at the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary as well. These two points are the main nesting places of the Olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), even though they are sometimes seen in Maharashtra, Goa, and the Andaman Islands.
The nesting in Rushikulya is an annual phenomenon where female turtles swim up the coast to prepare their nests and lay their eggs. This mass nesting event is called arribadas (a Spanish word meaning arrival).
Gahirmatha Beach, famous for it's Olive Ridley Turtles that come here in large numbers for nesting. In fact Gahirmatha Beach along with Bhitarkanika National Park makes up for one of India's largest eco reserves #UtkalaDibasa pic.twitter.com/yqxKZ2oENV— ࿕Ratnakar࿕ (@GabbarSanghi) April 1, 2020
This year at Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, as many as 420,000 turtles turned up awhile around 370,000 turtles arrived at Rushikulya Rookery. It is estimated that more than six million eggs have been laid, according to News18.
Normally, hundreds of people show up to watch the annual feature but this year, with the lockdown in place, the turtles were left in peace. To increase security, the wildlife officials have increased patrolling in the area as the turtles are always in danger from poachers.
Mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles in Odisha coast while nation is at 21 day lockdown. #Nature #21daylockdown #pandemia pic.twitter.com/z7ihzOYu0E— Harikrishnan S (@_harikrishnan_s) March 26, 2020
Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Amlan Nayak, said that there are two trawlers, two speedboats and a country boat manning the area to prevent fishing trawlers from entering the coast.
During COVID-19, Olive Ridley Turtles Survival Rate Up In India https://t.co/SlJFLmarWL | via @roncallari pic.twitter.com/u5H3fB5K8q— 【ツ】Ron Callari (@roncallari) March 31, 2020
Each year, the Indian Forest Department creates hatcheries for the eggs and once the hatchling are ready to start on their unique journeys, they are set free into the water. Last year, no Olive Ridley turtles showed up at Rushikulya, and the process was delayed in other places due to the cyclone Titli, as per BusinessInsider.