How do the Olive Ridley Turtles link to the Rushikulya Beach?
There are many beaches in India that are extremely popular with tourists. Now, one among the many famous beaches found in the country is the Rushikulya Beach located in Odisha. Situated in the Ganjam district, this beach is not only renowned for its picturesque beauty but also for serving as the nesting ground of the Olive Ridley Turtles species. So, here is presenting a few facts about a turtle species known as Olive Ridley and its close association to the Rushikulya Beach.
a. What exactly is the Olive Ridley Turtle Species?
According to the non-governmental organization World Wildlife Fund (India), the Olive Ridley Turtles are “one of the smallest” in the world. In addition, they also belong to a species of turtles that are most commonly found throughout the globe. Furthermore, the Olive Ridley along with the Kemps Turtle are also renowned for an unique process of “mass mating” (i.e. laying of eggs in large numbers) which is technically referred to as “Arribada”. Apparently, it is the due to the presence of an “olive coloured carapace” that this turtle species has been named so.
b. The close association between the Olive Ridley Turtles and the Rushikulya Beach:
It is at the Rushikulya Beach (one among a few beaches in India) where the Olive Ridley Turtle arrive to lay thousands of eggs every year. Apparently, this mating ritual occurs at this picturesque beach in Odisha early in the morning. It was in 1993, that for the first time biologist working for the Odisha Forest Department and Wildlife Institute of India discovered that this particular turtle species were mating in large numbers at this beach. Furthermore, it was in the year 1995 that a research program was initiated by the “Wildlife Institute of India” which basically revolved around tagging the turtles and obtaining relevant data pertaining the mating process. In addition, this program involved the use of the “youth” mainly belonging to the local community.
c. The period during which the Olive Ridley Turtles mate at the Rushikulya Beach:
“February to about March” is the time period during which the Olive Ridley Turtles undergo the mating process known as “Arribada” at the Rushikulya Beach.
d. The delayed mating of thousands of Olive Ridley Turtles at the Rushikulya Beach in 2010:
“6,000 Olive Ridley Turtle females” is supposed to have arrived at the Rushikulya Beach in March 2010 to lay their eggs. Apparently, this mating is said to have occurred a month later than the previous year i.e. 2009. However, when prominent Indian newspaper The Hindu asked the Divisional Forest Officer AK Jena about this delay in mating, he replied by stating that this phenomenon was not “unusual”. In terms of the effect that late mating might have on the eggs, an wildlife expert explained to The Hindu that “Whenever mass mating occurs during the second week of March a large number of eggs gets destroyed”. The major reason for the destruction of eggs given by the specialist was the rapid erosion of the beach due to the presence of high tide and strong wind speed.
And so, it is because of the mating ritual of the Olive Ridley Turtles witnessed on the Rushikulya Beach annually that makes it a popular tourist spot in Odisha truly worth visiting.
Image Credits: Wikimedia