COVID-19 lockdown has allowed lakhs of Olive Ridley turtles to nest in peace at Odisha coast, after skipping the phenomenon for a year. By Tanvi Jain

 

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With no humans around to disturb the flora and fauna anymore, the Earth’s condition is gradually showing major signs of improvement, and it’s the only good news the COVID-19 lockdown has brought so far.

As many as 8 lakh Olive Ridley Turtles have reportedly returned to Odisha’s Rushikulya Rookery coast in the absence of humans, currently under lockdown over rising cases of coronavirus.  

The endangered species first started nesting at Rushikulya rookery earlier this week, sometime in the afternoon, and later in the day, the unusual mass-nesting started at the coast as well. This rare site occurred after a year, as in 2019, the amphibians had skipped Rushikulya due to bad weather conditions, something which had happened in 2016, 2007 and 2002 as well. 

 

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Moreover, October 2018’s Cyclone Titli and the following floods had left huge piles of waste at the Rushikulya coast, which, despite being cleaned with excavators, had still managed to leave minute waste particles, thereby, keeping turtles away from nesting in 2019.  

As per the Odisha Forest Department data, over 2.7 lakh mother turtles and over 72,000 Olive Ridleys arrived at the beach to nest and lay eggs, this week. The unusual site became viral on Twitter within no time, a large number of people came forward to share the good news on the social media portal. 

Earlier this month, a similar phenomenon was also witnessed at¬†Odisha‚Äôs Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in¬†Kendrapara, when¬†around 15,000¬†Olive¬†Ridley¬†sea turtles¬†came ashore for mass nesting¬†at¬†Nasi — 1 and Nasi — 2 islands¬†within¬†Bhitarkanika National Park.¬†

 

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Lack of human intrusion both at the hands of locals as well as tourists has given the turtles freedom to nest in peace. So far this year, around 3.7 lakh Olive Ridleys have nested at Rushikulya rookery, while at Gahirmatha, the number is around 4.2 lakh, bringing the total number of turtles nesting at both the rookeries to over 7.9 lakh. 

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