Berhampur (Odisha), Feb 15: School students along with local volunteers have cleaned about 4km-long beach from Gokharakuda to Podampeta, near river Rushikulya mouth off Ganjam coast, the famous mass nesting site for the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.

Over 100 students of six high schools of the nearby villages together with the forest personnel and wildlife activists picked up around three tones of debris from the beach in around three hours, to facilitate the mass nesting of the sea turtles, likely to take place in the last week of February.

Most of the students, who have taken part in the clean drive, organised by the Odisha Marine Resources Conservation Consortium (OMRCC), were the members of the eco-clubs of their respective schools, said Shankara Narayan Bej coordinator, district eco-club. The drive was flagged off by the assistant conservator of forest, Berhampur Trinath Patnaik yesterday.

Several school teachers, Michael Peter of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), activists of the Rushikuya sea turtle protection committee and local fishermen also took part in the drive. Different competitions in conservation of Olive Ridley turtle were also held among the students. (Also Read: Goa CM treads cautiously on peacock issue)

Cleaning of the beach before the mass nesting was one of the strategies adopted by the Forest department for safe and smooth nesting of the sea turtles, said Patnaik. Earlier, forest personnel had cleaned the beach, added forest range officer, Khallikote Dillip Kumar Martha.

In a science project on “emerging problems in conservation of Olive Ridley sea turtle at Rushikulya mouth and its solution,” the students of GK High School Subalaya, had pointed out the mass nesting might face hindrance due to pile up of garbage in the beach site. (Also Read:

After Gahiramatha in Kendrapara district, the Rushikulya River mouth in Ganjam district, has emerged as the second largest rookery for the Olive Ridley turtles. “Since the turtles climb into the beach at any time to lay eggs, we have also prepared other strategies with deployment of the forest staff and volunteers”, said divisional forest officer, Berhampur A K Behera.