Carcasses of 47 Olive Ridley sea turtles, including 25 females, have been found near Rushikulya river mouth in Odisha’s Ganjam district in the past two months, officials said.
The forest department suspects that the turtles might have perished in the deep sea and their carcasses had been washed ashore, they said.
The officials did not rule out the possibility that the animals could have died due to illegal movement of mechanised fishing trawlers near the Rushikulya river mouth.
“We have taken measures to restrict movement of mechanised trawlers near the coast. This affects the breeding of turtles,” said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Berhampur, Ashish Kumar Behera.
The government has prohibited fishing within 20 km of the coast between November 1 and May 31 since the turtles gather there for breeding and nesting during the period, he said.
Ten protection units have set been up off the Ganjam coast to protect the Olive Ridley sea turtles, he added.
Two speedboats and two trawlers near Markandi were deployed to prevent entry of mechanised fishing trawlers from Andhra Pradesh.
“We hope the Olive Ridleys turn up in large numbers this time. Mass nesting of the turtles is likely to take place in the third week of February next year,” Behera said.
Nearly four lakh turtles had laid eggs near the Rushikulya river mouth between February 14 and 22 this year, he said.
After nesting, the female turtles climb ashore, dig pits in the sand, lay eggs and return to the sea.
The hatchlings emerge 45 to 50 days after nesting.