Rushikulya – Hatching of the Olive Ridely Turtles in Odisha
Rushikulya, the beach on the northern side is considered as the favored nesting site for olive ridley turtles. Every year, from November to the end of January, the ridley turtles mate in the coastal waters and from January to early April, lakhs of mother turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. After a 45-50 day incubation period, baby hatchlings emerge from the sandy nests to crawl into the ocean, giving the onlookers a watchful sight.
The hatching of the turtles ends the process that started in November with turtles from South America crossing the Pacific to reach here. In the beginning, they feed in the water and mate under the clear surface of the Rushikulya. Nesting occurs around mid-February with the females making their way on the beach during the nights. The mornings and the nights give an awesome sight to the onlookers to have a look at the bay ridley turtles.
Rushikulya is the only place where people can watch the ‘arribada’ (mass nesting) and consequent hatching of the Olive Ridely turtles in Odisha. The 2.6 Lakhs turtle nesting in the year 2008-09 was surpassed this year with more than 3 lakh Olive Ridley turtles laying eggs at Rushikulya rookery. The nesting of this endangered species can be best seen in the sandy stretch between Kantiagada and Podampeta and near Purunabandh area. Experts opine that clean nesting site and a proper atmosphere has driven the turtles to choose these areas for nesting.
The forest officials leave no stone unturned to ensure the smooth nesting of the turtles during the period. The Government engages Volunteers to count the eggs and provide protection to these eggs since the mother turtles have left the place. The Government of Odisha’ Tourism Department make arrangements to the thousand of nature lovers to view this rare sight comfortably. With AC accommodation and the flavour of the local cuisines and an comfortable transport facilities, the tourists can enjoy their travel and stay at Rushikulya.
Tourists have varied options for their stay and night outs be at chhatrapur, near the Rushikulya rookery, Rambha or Barkul for a comfortable accommodation as well as enjoying the nature at its best.
The perfect place to see the turtles hatch is Gokharakuda,which is situated about 3 km from Humma on NH-5 and about 165 km away from Berhampur. Chhatrapur is the nearest railway station, which is again about 15 km away from the place. Besides Gokharakuda,it is possible to watch the turtle hatching at Podampetta and Purnabandh which are 4 km and 3 km respectively from Humma.