The nesting of Olive Ridley turtles from the coast of Odisha is nothing less than an experience of a lifetime. This unique mass nesting event is known as Arribada, which means the arrival of a thousand female Olive Ridley turtles coming together on the same beach to lay their eggs. This beautiful unique event lasts long for over a stretch of five to seven days and takes place almost every year along the seaboard of Odisha. The nesting of Olive Ridley turtles attracts a massive number of photographers, tourists and wildlife lovers from across the globe to Odisha in the goal of beholding this marvel.
The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest species from the sea turtle family. They are also the most copious. Their inhabitance lies in the warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. These turtles mainly feed on jellyfish, shrimp, snails, mollusks, crabs, fish and their eggs.
The Olive Ridley turtles are named after their olive green coloured shells. They spend their entire lives in the ocean, travelling thousands of kilometers between feeding and mating grounds in a year. However, these sea animals are popularly known for their mass nest gatherings. The female turtles return to the same coats where they formerly hatched their eggs.
During Arribada, approximately six lakh female turtles could rise from the waters at a time. They walk up slowly to the beach at night. They use their back flippers to steadily dig cone-shaped nests that are about one and a half feet deep. A single female Olive Ridley turtle can lay around 80 to 120 eggs and the process can take up to an hour. These eggs hatch after about 45 to 65 days.
Post the hatching time, the Odisha beaches are swamped with crawling Olive Ridley turtle babies, making their first trek towards the ocean. According to the reported calculations, one hatchling survives to reach adulthood for every 1,000 hatchlings that make it to the sea. This may be the reason why Arribadas happen — to increase their survival rate.