Meet the home-grown guardians of Odisha’s Olive Ridley turtles


It’s a bright, breezy February morning and we’re getting into a fishing boat to try to spot some Olive Ridley sea turtles. Fifteen minutes later, just one kilometre off the coast of the Rushikulya area in south-east Odisha, there’s no need to try – they’re everywhere. They swim, hundreds of them in every direction, in the green waters – some pass right by our boat – and bob their heads up occasionally for air before disappearing quietly under the surface.

The turtles are here on very important business. A few weeks ago, they swam here from miles away to mate. And by the time you read this, the females will be making their way, in astonishing numbers, to lay their eggs by moonlight in the sands ahead. They didn’t pick Odisha at random. They’ve been doing this for millennia – returning to the same coast where they were hatched, this time to bury as many as 150 soft-shelled eggs each, so 45 days later, little hatchlings can emerge, paddle automatically towards their ocean home and return to do the same one day.

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