Live telecast of mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles shelved

Kendrapara: Coastal security compulsion has forced the authorities not to go ahead with live telecast of mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles at a rookery in Odisha close to the defence installation site, forest officials said today.

From the national security viewpoint, live global exposure to the annual mass nesting of turtles through internet has been shelved. However, it would be videographed and transmitted for public view later, they said.

It was earlier decided that this year Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and state forest department would jointly carry out live telecast of mass nesting of these marine animals in Gahirmatha nesting ground in Kendrapara district.

Last year, everything was ready for telecast. However, the turtles did not turn up, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Kedar Kumar Swain.

Tourists and researchers can't enter into the unique natural heritage keeping in view the fact that the unmanned islands are located in close vicinity of Wheeler's island defence test range centre, a prohibited territory.

Only forest officials and a select band of animal researchers would be allowed to watch the annual mass nesting, he said. Though the turtles had skipped visit last year, mass nesting phenomenon is expected to occur any time now as there is a sizeable congregation of Olive Ridley turtles along Gahirmatha coastal waters.

Ground-level feedback indicates that millions of turtles may turn up on the beach to lay eggs. Turtle protection patrolling vessels have come across movement of thousands of female turtles within 2-3 nautical seaward distance of Gahirmatha nesting beach. Sea patrolling vigil has been stepped close to Gahirmatha coast. Three forest patrolling vessels have been stationed along the Gahirmatha nesting zone to stop trawler intrusion, Swain said.

Idyllic Gahirmatha nesting ground is lying along the Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 Islands. Since it is a remote and far-flung spot, mass nesting phenomenon has so far remained out of bounds for tourists, visitors and researchers. Besides location of DRDO's test range centre close to the nesting ground often pose hindrance for visit to the place because of security-related factor.

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