More Than 20 Million Baby Turtles Crawl To The Sea For First Time
The video shows olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings swarming across a deserted beach in Odisha, on the eastern coast of the country.
Local forester Susanta Nanda shared the clip on Twitter with the caption: "A sight that casts magical spell year after year.
"Nearly 2 crore plus [20 million] olive ridley hatchlings have emerged & made their way to sea from half of about 4 lakh [400,000] nesting at Nasi-2 islands, Gahirmatha rookery Odisha.
"The spectacle continues. Early morning video."
In March, the species - which is listed as vulnerable - nested in the area during daylight hours for the first time since 2013.
Amlan Nayak, district forest officer for Berhampur, Odisha, told Mongabay-India: "The last time we saw day time nesting of olive ridleys along this site was in 2013.
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"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."
With lockdown measures implemented during this period to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, it is tempting to conclude that this lack of human presence may have prompted the first daytime nesting in seven years. However, experts reckon it is unlikely that lockdown affected the timing of nesting - though it may have had other effects on the nesting process as a whole.
S.N. Patro, the president of Orissa Environment Society, told Mongabay-India: "I do not think the lockdown period can have any impact on the nesting activities of the olive ridley turtles.
"But what the lockdown can do is that it can reduce the casualties of the sea turtles or the damages their eggs undergo in normal days. However, in the absence of human movements, pest attacks and attacks from other animals, can increase as well.
"They [turtles] are quite confident. The village communities in Rushikulya have known of arribadas [the term for mass nesting, taken from the Spanish word for 'arrival'] of olive ridley turtles since time immemorial.
"The turtles want a clean and dry beach. They have to feel safe. Since September 2019 efforts were on to clean the beach. Due to the debris deposited on the beach following cyclone Titli."
Sadly, Times of India reports that hundreds of baby turtles in Odisha died on their maiden crawl to the sea after getting tangled up in fishing nets.
Featured Image Credit: Twitter/Susanta Nanda IFS