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Sea erosion a threat to nesting sites of Olive ridley turtles

Sea erosion a threat to nesting sites of Olive ridley turtles

Sea erosion on Ganjam district coast of Odisha, including at mass nesting site of endangered Olive ridley turtles near Rushikulya rookery, has started to worry the inhabitants of the coast and environmental activists.

Demands are on for proper geomorphologic study of the sea erosion phenomenon as the impact of erosion is on the rise every year. During the past few weeks, sea waves are showing intense corrosive action. Portions of a road and some houses have been washed away by the sea waves at Rameyapatna. The process of rehabilitation of this village at a safe place is already on.

According to Chikiti tehsildar Sangram Panda, this phenomenon of increased sea erosion needs proper scientific study for which he has written to the authorities. Few years ago similar sea erosion had compelled administration to start the rehabilitation process of inhabitants of Podampeta another village of marine fishermen.

But threat of sea erosion to the coastline near Rushikulya river mouth, where Olive ridley turtles come to nest every year, is a worry for wildlife and environmental activists. More than 2.5 kilometre stretch of beach adjacent to north of Rushikulya rookery is a major nesting site of these endangered marine turtles on Indian coastline.

According Rabindranath Sahu of Ruhsikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee (RSTPC), in the past erosion and deposition was a regular phenomenon in this region but the width of the beach where Olive ridleys were nesting was not getting changed. Sea erosion was starting to occur with the start of the monsoons from July and August but the sea was again staring the deposition process at this beach from September and the width of the coastline was getting restored by December so that it was ready to welcome mother Olive ridleys for nesting.

But since 2007, the rate of deposition by the sea has decreased in comparison to erosion. This year erosion is continuing even in October. Out of six kilometre stretch of beach of mass nesting of turtles, now over two kilometre stretch remains completely eroded, alleged Mr. Sahu. “Last year similar erosion had occurred at this coastline but natural restoration through deposition by sea occurred only near Podampeta, while the erosion did not get restored at beach near Gokharkuda and Purunabandha. If this process continues then in a few years this coast may not remain conducive for mass nesting of Olive ridleys,” said Mr. Patra of the RSTPC. He alleged that after construction of wave breakers of Gopalpur port few years ago this erosive action of sea has increased. But till now there has been no study to prove this.

Bivash Pandav of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), who has studied process of mass nesting of Olive ridleys at Rushikulya rookery coast for several years, said decrease in width of the coast due to sea erosion would surely affect mass nesting of Olive ridleys. In 2016, Olive ridleys for some yet to be determined reasons did not prefer to have mass nesting at this coast although lakhs of them came over to this region for mating. According to M.r Pandav, it was high time for expert study of sea erosion on Ganjam coast by experts of hydrology and geomorphology. “It is not for Olive ridleys only but for the future safety of the human populace living on this coast”, he said.

Environmental activist Prafulla Samantra also demanded for similar study and precautionary measures. He wanted this study to take into account issues and impacts of global warming and climatic changes during this study.

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