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Orissa Coast Littered with Dead Sea Turtles
By Wendy Heller, December 3, 2007 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Kalingatimes.com

The tranquil Satabhaya coast along the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary has turned into a graveyard for Olive Ridley sea turtles with over a hundred decomposed bodies of these delicate marine species spotted along a kilometre stretch shoreline.

The sighting of bodies of these sensitive marine animals has triggered a near–catastrophe like situation before the onset of ‘arribada' (mass egg laying phenomenon).

The large number of death of the sea turtles that has put the forest personnel in a spot of bother was confirmed by forest personnel on Monday.

“We have deputed forest personnel to assess the situation. It is being examined whether the casualties were caused due to entanglement in fishing nets,” said Golakh Chandra Rout, Assistant Forest Conservator, Rajnagar Mangrove Forest (Wildlife) Division.

“It's a horrific sight. The motionless bodies of these aquatic animals are strewn along the sandy beach. The spectre of death commenced about a week back and there have been greater accumulation of bodies with each passing day. The number could exceed in the coming days,” said Sashmita Das, Sarpanch of sea erosion hit Satabhaya gram panchayat.

The beach wears a ghastly look with bloated and decomposed bodies being eaten up by stray dogs. There was deep mark of injury on some of these dead species, she narrated.

“Pungent odour emanating from the beach has made the lives miserable for residents of nearby Satabhaya village. We are apprehensive that the heaps of decomposed bodies might trigger health hazard,” Das added.

The forest personnel of Bhitarkanika national park are yet to turn up to assess the trend of turtle mortality. As the government agency played truant in giving decent burial to the killed animals, stray dogs have acted as scavenging agents eating up the bodies, she said.

This coastal patch had witnessed such spectacle of death of Olive Ridley turtles last year too, Das informed.

Thousands of Olive Ridleys get killed along the Orissa coast every year by getting entangled in the nets of the mechanised fishing trawlers that operate illegally in the prohibited zones when lakhs of these endangered species congregate for mating.



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