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Olive Ridley Turtles

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 27, Dec 2021
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Reference News-

Researchers of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) are carrying out tagging of Olive Ridley turtles at three mass nesting sites – Gahirmatha, Devi River mouth and Rushikulya.

  • The exercise was undertaken in Odisha in January 2021 after a span of about 25 years and 1,556 turtles had been tagged.

Key Points

  • Tagging and its Significance:
    • The metal tags affixed to turtles are non-corrosive, which can be removed later and they do not harm their body.
    • The tags are uniquely numbered containing details such as the name of the organisation, country-code and email address.
    • If researchers in other countries come across the tagged turtles, they will email their location in longitude and latitude to researchers in India. There is an established network working on turtles.
    • It would help them identify the migration path and places visited by the marine reptiles after congregation and nesting.
  • Olive Ridley Turtles:
    • About:
      • The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
      • These turtles are carnivores and get their name from their olive colored carapace.
      • They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
    • Habitat:
      • They are found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
      • The Odisha’s Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is known as the world’s largest rookery (colony of breeding animals) of sea turtles.
  • Protection Status:
    • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Scheduled 1
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • Threats:
      • Marine pollution and waste.
      • Human Consumption: They are extensively poached for their meat, shell and leather, and eggs.
      • Plastic Garbage: An ever-increasing debris of plastics, fishing nets, discarded nets, polythene and other garbage dumped by tourists and fishing workers.
      • Fishing Trawlers: Overexploitation of marine resources by use of trawlers often violates the rule to not fish 20 kilometers within a marine sanctuary.
        • There were injury marks on many dead turtles indicating they could have been trapped under trawls or gill nets.
    • Initiatives to Protect Olive Ridley Turtles:
      • Operation Olivia:
        • Every year, the Indian Coast Guard’s “Operation Olivia”, initiated in the early 1980s, helps protect Olive Ridley turtles as they congregate along the Odisha coast for breeding and nesting from November to December.
        • It also intercepts unlawful trawling activities.
  • Mandatory use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs):
    • To reduce accidental killing in India, the Odisha government has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), a net specially designed with an exit cover which allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch.