The Orissa coast is once again dotted with carcasses of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles. It’s a horrific sight. The spectre of death commenced about a week back and there have thousands of which have been washed ashore after being killed by mechanized fishing been greater accumulation of bodies with each passing day. The number could exceed in the coming days. According to our survey team till date more than 2500 dead turtles found in Astaranga beach this year. Thousands of Olive Ridleys get killed along the Orissa coast every year by getting entangled in the nets of the mechanized fishing trawlers that operate illegally in the prohibited zones when lakhs of these endangered species congregate for mating. Over the last decade, the beaches of Orissa have been transformed into mass graveyards of the sea turtles, with over 100,000 dead turtles being washed ashore. If the turtles go on dying at this alarming rate, the endangered Olive Ridley turtles would not find these places safe for nesting or would be extinct in the next few decades.

Left with no alternative source of livelihood many fishermen committed suicide in Orissa during the period of ban. The fact is, traditional fishermen consider turtles as an incarnation of god and worship them. They neither consume turtle eggs nor its meat. In fact, the Shrimp trawlers owned by large business houses and influential people like politicians or politically affiliated ones are the major culprits but flout the rules continuously.

News from: Bijaya Ku Kabi (Action for the Protection of Wild Animals), and Bichitra Biswal (Sea Turtle Action Programme)

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