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Things To Do In Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary
The Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is located in the Kendrapara district of the coastal state Orissa, and is the one and only marine life reserve in the country. Its chief attraction is the annual mass nesting of the Olive Ridley sea turtles that takes place here in winter. It is also known to be one of the largest breeding grounds for the Olive Ridley turtles as they migrate in numbers of millions from the South Pacific Ocean each year to lay eggs on the shores of Gahirmatha.
The pristine beauty of Gahirmatha beach also attracts tourists, local and international alike; who visit to enjoy the solitude of the shores that have remained protected from excessive human interference. With a variety of activities to explore in the area, here is a list of the top things to do in Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
Visit the Turtle Nesting Grounds
During a week long period in the month of January or February every year, thousands of Olive Ridley turtles reach Gahirmatha Beach for the process of mating. When the mating is over, the females dig up holes in the sand to lay about 100 to 140 eggs each. The baby turtles hatch about 45 to 65 days later and swarm the beach to swim towards the ocean. This is also the time when they are most susceptible to predators like dogs, birds and crabs. To protect this vulnerable specie, the Orissa government, and even the locals, have made efforts to save the hatchlings from being hunted by fencing off the nesting area and even prohibiting fishing in the region, to allow safe passage of the turtles into the sea.
This mass nesting as well as exodus of baby turtles into the sea is a sight to behold.
The location of Gahirmatha at the mouth of the rivers Dhamra and Mahanadi in the north and south respectively makes boating one of the most interesting activities to pursue in the region. Visitors usually take a boat from Gupti, passing through the mangroves of Bhitarkanika to reach the shores of Gahirmatha. The serene and solitary atmosphere of the area is perfect to enjoy some time on the boat and marvel at the beauty of nature.
Explore Flora and Fauna
The Gahirmatha Sanctuary is home to a great variety of plant and animal life. Some of the notable plants and trees here are the Sal, Babool, Bamboo, Teak, Casia among numerous others, making this region a spectacular place for all nature enthusiasts.
An extraordinary range of wildlife can also be viewed in Gahirmatha; species like the four-horned antelope, wild boar, chinkara, hyena and the crocodile call the sanctuary home.