Olive ridley turtles begin mass nesting
What is the issue ?
- 3000 odd female olive ridley turtles came out of the sea, signalling a start to the mass nesting process.
About the process :
- The mass nesting process is where the female olive ridley turtles come out onto the beach in massive numbers and lay eggs.
- During this phenomenal nesting, up to 600,000 and more females emerge from the waters, over a period of five to seven days, to lay eggs.
- They lay their eggs in conical nests about one and a half feet deep which they laboriously dig with their hind flippers.
- The process continues for about a week.
- After about 45-65 days, the eggs begin to hatch, and these beaches are swamped with crawling Olive-ridley turtle babies, making their first trek towards the vast ocean.
Where does this happen ?
- Sandy beach of the Rushikulya rookery beach in Ganjam district of Odisha.
What you need to know about Olive ridley turtles :
- The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- These turtles, along with their cousin the Kemps ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
- The species is recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list.
- They are carnivores, and feed mainly on jellyfish, shrimp, snails, crabs, molluscs and a variety of fish and their eggs.
- These turtles spend their entire lives in the ocean, and migrate thousands of kilometers between feeding and mating grounds in the course of a year.
- Females return to the very same beach from where they first hatched, to lay their eggs.
- The coast of Orissa in India is the largest mass nesting site for the Olive-ridley, followed by the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.
- Olive-ridleys face serious threats across their migratory route, habitat and nesting beaches, due to human activities such as turtle unfriendly fishing practices, development and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centres.
- International trade in these turtles and their products is banned under CITES Appendix I.
- They are extensively poached for their meat, shell and leather, and their eggs, though illegal to harvest, have a significantly large market around the coastal regions.
- However, the most severe threat they face is the accidental killing of adult turtles through entanglement in trawl nets and gill nets due to uncontrolled fishing during their mating season around nesting beaches.
What is the Odisha government doing to save these turtles ?
- 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.
- However, this has been strongly opposed by the fishing communities as they believe TEDs result in loss of considerable amount of the catch along with the turtle.