Olive Ridley turtles have started arriving in large at Gahirmatha beach in Odisha’s Kendrapara district for breeding season. Gahirmatha beach is known as world’s largest rookery of this species.
During the breeding season, large numbers of turtles arrive at Gahirmatha beach for mating. Later, they scale sand slope in large numbers to lay eggs in January and February. In 2016-17 season, around 9.75 lakh Olive Ridley turtles came out from sea to lay eggs along Odisha coast.
Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is smallest and most abundant of all sea turtle found in world. It gets its name from its olive coloured carapace, which is heart-shaped and rounded. It is found in warm waters of Pacific and Indian oceans.
It spends entire lives in ocean and migrates thousands of kilometers between feeding and mating grounds in course of a year. Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years. It is recognized as Vulnerable by IUCN Red list. In India, it is protected under Wildlife (Protection) Act.
The breeding season of Olive Ridley turtle commences its journey from Indian Ocean towards Bay of Bengal during their mating season in October and November every year. A single female can lay upto 100 to 150 eggs in a pit dug on beaches. The destination for majority of turtles for laying egg is Gahirmatha in Odisha. The sandy stretches of Hope Island of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary also have turned into a breeding area. Six weeks later these eggs hatches and newly hatched turtles start journey to their Indian Ocean habitat.