While Humans Are Locked Inside Thousands of Endangered Turtles Return to Odisha Beach to Lay Eggs

We are living in difficult times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and many believe that this pandemic will change the world for good. While we are being self-isolated thus fighting the spread of COVID-19, Nature has its own course and for the better as it started to recover. We know the damage that we have done to the environment, but by minimizing our activities we can see how little it takes for the Nature to recover.

Namely, the most polluted cities in the world have cleaner air and people after decades can see the beautiful blue sky above their heads. Animals enjoy our quarantine and started to use the areas that were before forbidden for them and that in a way made them endangered species.

India is a nation-wide lockdown since March 24, which allowed the Olive Ridley sea turtles to freely return to Odisha beach to lay their eggs. This site is the largest mass nesting site, and more than half of the world population of Olive Ridley turtles comes at Odisha coast and other coasts of India for nesting according to OWO –  Odisha Wildlife Organization.

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The arribada or the mass nesting of olive Ridleys is nothing short of magic. Olive Ridleys live in oceans and only come to land to nest. When the females grow up, they return to the same beaches to lay eggs. How they navigate back was a mystery for a long time but recent science suggests that individual beaches have magnetic fields unique to them. When the turtles hatch, these fields are imprinted into their brains, allowing them to sense it when they need to return. It’s a magnificent internal compass as accurate as the latitudes and longitudes used by humans. Read a spectacular story by Swati Thiyagarajan @swatithiyagarajan on the nesting phenomenon on our website. Link in bio. . Photo: Kartik Shanker @shanker_kartik #arribada #odisha #oliveridley #oliveridleyturtle #nesting #rushikulya #turtle #India #wildlife #conservation #biodiversity #wildlifeIndia #turtles🐢 #massnesting #breed #naturalworld #rgsustain

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Yet, before the lockdown these sea turtles had limited access to the beach because of the people who wanted to witness their nesting. They used to come in flocks to the beaches to dig nests and lay their eggs, but due to the human curiosity they have avoided the beaches which contributed to their lower count in nature.

Now, we can see them coming in large numbers at the Gahirmatha Beach and Odisha’s Rushikulya Rookery to lay their legs. The Forest Department claims that more than 250,000 mother turtles have engaged in building nests in only a week.

Their appearance in such great number would have not been possible if the lockdown did not exist as there would have been many people that will disturb them in their nesting process. Sea turtles do not like that attention when nesting just like any other living creature.

A female turtle can lay about 80 to 100 eggs on average, and for the eggs to hatch about 45 days are needed, after which the young turtles move to the sea. Sea turtles can grow 2 feet in size and weigh up to 50 kilos. Mother turtles lay their eggs to the same beach from where they hatched.

So, this year due to the coronoavirus pandemic, they will be undisturbed, on the beaches there will be only 25 forest researchers and guards so that they can protect these endangered sea turtles. It is expected that this year there will be a gradual increase in nesting, and after so many bad news this is really good news to hear about.