Olive ridley turtles have started mass nesting near Rushikulya river mouth off Orissa's Ganjam coast, about 60 km from in Berhampur, about a fortnight ahead of their scheduled period.
About 80,000 olive ridley, the endangered sea creatures, have been nesting in the sandy beach spreading about 3 km from Purunabandh to Gokharakuda, the second biggest rookery in the world after famous Gahirmatha in Orissa's Kendrapara district.
The wildlife officials said on Tuesday that the mass nesting would continue for another 3 to 4 days as thousands of turtles were waiting for their turn in the sea.
"The ridleys generally start their mass nesting on the eve of Mahasivaratri, but this time they have started laying eggs ahead of scheduled period and the process will continue for some more days," Bijaya Ketan Patnaik, state's chief wildlife warden said.
He, however, did not spell out the reason behind the early mass nesting.
Last year, about 1,80,000 olive ridleys had nested in this site during the first and second week of March.