DRDO covers bright lights on coastal watch to avoid distracting Olive Ridleys
The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has covered its mast lights at its integrated test range site on Abdul Kalam Island to avoid distracting the Olive Ridley marine turtles that come to nest on Gahirmatha beach in Odisha’s Kendrapara district.
Gahirmatha forest range officer Debasish Bhoi said a large number of Olive Ridley turtles have already congregated near Nasi-1 and 2 islands within the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary. The forest department therefore had asked the DRDO to switch off the lights that could disorient the turtles. “The high-powered illuminated lights installed at the test range centre are a distracting factor for turtles that instead of heading towards the nesting ground move towards the test range centre,” Bhoi said.
The high-powered lights at the Integrated Test Range Centre have been installed for coastal security watch and vigil programmes. The DRDO has covered the lights to reduce the intensity.
The endangered turtles travel all the way from the Pacific Ocean and visit the Odisha coast in November after travelling for thousands of kilometres in the seawater.
They mate in December and January before the mass nesting, which takes place in the last week of February to the second week of March. The turtles also lay their eggs at the mouth of the Rushikulya river in Ganjam district and Devi river in Puri district. An Olive Ridley female turtle usually lays about 120-150 eggs and the hatchlings emerge in a span of 45-60 days. However, out of every 1,000 hatchlings that enter the sea, only one manages to reach adulthood.