Hundreds of thousands of endangered olive ridley sea turtles come ashore each year to lay eggs in a remarkable show of nature along the eastern coast of the Indian state of Odisha, the largest mass nesting site of the olive ridley sea turtle.
With such a large display of sea turtles come large numbers of tourists, and, unfortunately, not all of them behave appropriately.
A photo of a tourist holding up an olive ridley sea turtle as another man takes a selfie was posted to Twitter and has since created a public uproar, which in turn has prompted local officials to act, according to The New Indian Express.
Suresh Chandra Mohapatra has directed the forest division to identify the persons in the photographs so action can be taken against those who harassed the protected sea turtles.
The abhorrent behavior is reported to have been occurring at Rushikulya beach in Ganjam. In another photo, two children are seen sitting atop a sea turtle and another shows a sea turtle being harassed by a cameraman shining a bright light on the turtle at night.
“With continuous community efforts, we have more turtles visiting our rookeries,” chief wildlife warden Sandeep Tripathy told the Express. “This year the number of turtles at Rushikulya is the highest ever in history.”
Last year the nesting numbers of olive ridley sea turtles totaled 370,000, but this season there have already been 380,000 and the nesting season continues through April.
So officials are looking for ways to control unruly tourists.
“The Berhampur DFO has been asked to take preventive measures to stop recurrence of such obnoxious happenings,” Tripathy told the Express.
Subhendu Mallik, the honorary wildlife warden of Khurda, proposed strict regulations be put into place.
“The area must be kept under CCTV surveillance and uniformed forest officials should be deployed,” Mallik told the Express.
Every year, the Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee prepares the beaches so they are clean and safe for nesting, according to Global News. And the conservation efforts have been paying off.
“When we started our conservation work in 1994 only 30,000 to 40,000 turtles used to come here for nesting,” Rabindranath Sahubut, the committee secretary, told Global News. “Now their number has increased to between 300,000 and 400,000.”
Hence the need for local protection from disorderly tourists.