Olive Ridley Turtles | 24 Feb 2021

Why in News

The Orissa High Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the death of around 800 Olive Ridley sea turtles due to negligence by Odisha’s forest and fisheries departments.

Key Points

  • Features of Olive Ridley Turtles:
    • 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.

  • Protection Status:
  • 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.
  • Arribada (Mass Nesting):
    • They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
    • They lay their eggs over a period of five to seven days in conical nests about one and a half feet deep which they dig with their hind flippers.
  • 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 kilometres within a marine sanctuary.
      • There were injury marks on many dead turtles indicating they could have been trapped under trawls or gill nets.

Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary

  • Gahirmatha is the mass nesting spot in Indian Ocean region and the only turtle sanctuary in Odisha.
  • It is the world’s largest nesting beach of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles.
  • Gahirmatha was declared a turtle sanctuary in 1997 by the Odisha government after considering its ecological importance and as part of efforts to save the sea turtles.
  • Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is one of the three parts of the Bhitarkanika National Park. The other two includes the area of Bhitarkanika National Park and the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary.

Source: DTE