The Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in Odissa’s Kendrapada district, 174 km from the capital city, Bhuvaneshwar(country- India), hosts the world’s largest nesting site for the endangered Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys oliveacea ) turtles. Every year, between December and April, thousands of these beautiful creatures come ashore to lay their eggs. This activity is also termed as the arribada or mass nesting .It is nothing but a miracle that around 700,000-800,000 Olive Ridleys begin swimming their way to Gahirmatha with the onset of every winter as if working to an biological clock to congregate, mate and nest.
There are three major mass nesting sites in Odissa: the Nasi islands in Gahirmatha, the Rushikulya river mouth and the Devi river mouth. The Rushikulya nesting beach was discovered in 1994 by researchers from the Wildlife Institute of India during turtle surveys. Today more than the natural predators such as dogs, jackals,wild boar and eagles or gulls, the main threat to the eggs, hatchlings and turtles are from the human beings. There are large-scale irreversible threats looming over the nesting turtle due to many man made disasters (deep sea drilling, chemical pollution, rapid destruction of coral reefs, deaths in trawling nets & fishing gears, non-usage of TEDs; “Turtle Excluder Device” and poaching).
More than a breeding ground, the Odissa coast has turned into a turtle graveyard. It is a costly price we are paying by this needless slaughter of these mild creatures. So far not only the Odissa government but also many governments worldwide have failed to take threats to sea turtles’ survival seriously and have made no sincere efforts to protect them. A rampant awareness campaign is called for in the face of such dire circumstances. “Operation Kachhapa” remains the only turtle conservation programme that is working consistently in Odissa. It definitely has made a significant impact since its inception but a lot more is yet to be done to curb the alarming mortality rate.
A revolution awaitens to stop the silent death of these gentle Sea Ninjas. Revolution begins when we start deciding for ourselves. To stop this ecological carnage, not only the government but also every citizen of this globe has to pledge for their survival and protection. They have every right to live and can’t we just give them their fair chance!