By Hrusikesh Mohanty.
The mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles has started near the Rushikulya river mouth along the Gokharakuda-Purunabandh stretch in Ganjam district.
"After mating, the female turtles will crawl to the beach to lay eggs," said divisional forest officer (Berhampur) S S Mishra.
"We have taken steps to ensure their safe mating in the sea and mass nesting on the beach," he added.
Forest officials are keeping an eye to prevent entry of fishing trawlers, which will severely affect mating.
The officers and local volunteers have launched a drive to clean the beach to facilitate mass nesting. At least nine camps have been set up in and around the four-km stretch to ensure safety of turtles, official sources said.
Phailin and subsequent floods in October, 2013, have helped shape up the stretch of the beach, giving more space to turtles for nesting, they said.
"Since the climate is conducive and a large number of turtles are seen floating in the sea, the mass nesting is expected to take place in the second week of next month," the DFO said. Sporadic nesting has already started on the beach.
Last year, over one lakh (100 000) turtles laid eggs on the beach during mass nesting, which continued for three to four days, sources said.
"More female turtles is expected to lay eggs this time than that during previous year as their number in the sea is more," said secretary of Rushikuya Sea Turtle Protection Organization Rabindra Sahu.
Around 150 Olive Ridley carcasses were washed ashore recently. Officials said they might have been killed in deep sea.