60 dead turtles wash up on Orissa beach

Bhubaneswar, Nov 25 (Inditop.com) The carcasses of at least 60 Olive Ridley turtles – that in all likelihood fell victim to fishing trawlers – have been spotted on an Orissa beach in the past 20 days, a senior state wildlife official said Wednesday.

The dead turtles were spotted at various places between the mouths of the Devi and Dhamra rivers. Some carcasses were also spotted near the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary – one of the world’s largest turtle nesting sites – in Kendrapada district, some 174 km from here, officials said.

“We have spotted the carcasses of at least 60 turtles during the last 20 days. Some of them were spotted this week,” divisional forest officer P.K. Behera told IANS. The turtles were most probably washed ashore after being killed by fishing trawlers, he said.

The state has three turtle nesting sites – Gahirmatha, the Devi rivermouth in the district of Puri and Rushikulya river mouth in the district of Ganjam.

While more than half a million endangered Olive Ridley turtles nest every winter at Gahirmatha coast, they also come to the other two beaches, though in smaller numbers.

As part of its initiative to protect turtles, like in the past, the state wildlife department has set up several camps and deployed dozens of officials near the coast in all the sites.

The state government has also banned all types of fishing within 20 km off the shore near the nesting sites from Nov 1 to May 31 to protect the turtles.

The turtles arrive and congregate in the shallow coastal waters in October, they nest between December and March, and most hatchlings emerge by May.

“Thousands of turtles have already arrived for mating. We have spotted them in the sea water some 10 km from the coast,” Behera said.

“We seized a fishing trawler and arrested at least eight fishermen earlier this month for carrying out fishing activities in the prohibited area,” he said.