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Turtles skipping mass nesting natural: Expert

  Dr H R Bustard, an international expert on turtles and crocodiles and their population ecology, said it is perfectly natural for Olive Ridley turtles to miss mass nesting. From past records it is found that the turtles gave mass nesting or 'arribada' a miss once in every six years, he said. Forest officials and wildlife experts had expressed concern over the turtles not returning to Gahiramatha beach in Kendrapada district this year for laying eggs.


"The word 'failure' for their 'non-appearance' is a misnomer. We do not know why nesting does not occur every year, but this is not cause for concern," said Bustard, who claimed to have conducted the first-ever census of the sea turtles in 1975-76 at Gahirmatha. Bustard said according to annual census figures over past 38 years, there has been no mass nesting at Gahirmatha in 1981-82, 1984-85, 1987-88, 1996-97, 1997-98 (two years in succession), 2001-2002, and 2007-08. "It indicates arribada did not occur every year," he said to drive his point home.


According to divisional forest officer (DFO) of Bhitarkanika National Park Kedar Kumar Swain, every year turtles lay eggs in large numbers at Gahirmatha. Environmentalists also expressed concern due to several reasons like beach erosion, bright light from the missile test range at Wheelers' Island near Gahiramatha and illegal fishing. Bustard, however, said ridley population in Odisha is quite healthy. "Despite deaths due to netting of bycatch, the population is increasing."


Times of India, Delhi, Monday 12th May 2014