“Olive Ridley turtles” likely to skip mass nesting on Rushikulya river mouth this year

What is the News?

The annual mass nesting of millions of Olive Ridley sea turtles near the Rushikulya river mouth in Odisha is likely to be missed this year.

Mass nesting of Olive Ridley Turtles:
  • The Rushikulya river mouth is considered the second-biggest nesting site for Olive Ridley Turtles in India.
  • The Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Odisha is considered the world’s largest nesting beach for Olive Ridley Turtles. The mass nesting in the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary occurred in March 2021.
  • However, the mass nesting near the Rushikulya river mouth is likely to be missed in 2021. As the time for nesting is almost over.
  • But this won’t be the first time they won’t come for mass nesting. In 2002, 2007, 2016 and 2019, the turtles had not shown up at Rushikulya.
About Olive Ridley Turtles:
  • The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
  • They are found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Characteristics:

  • Features: Males and female Olive Ridley Turtles grow to the same size. However, the females have a slightly more rounded carapace(shell) as compared to the male.
  • Diet: These turtles are carnivores. They feed mainly on jellyfish, shrimp, snails, crabs, molluscs and a variety of fish and their eggs.
  • Migration: They spend their entire lives in the ocean. Further, they migrate thousands of kilometres between feeding and mating grounds in a year.
  • Arribada (Mass Nesting): They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada. Under this, thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • Nesting Sites: The coast of Odisha in India is the largest mass nesting site for the Olive-ridley. This is followed by the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.
Conservation status:

Threats: The major threats to Olive Ridley turtles are:

  • Firstly, poor fishing practices,
  • Secondly, development and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centres,
  • And lastly, poaching for their meat, shell and leather.
Initiatives:
  • Indian Coast Guard undertakes “Operation Olivia” every year. It is an Olive Ridley Turtle protection program.
  • To reduce the accidental killing in India, the Odisha government has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices(TEDs). It is a net specially designed with an exit cover that allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch.

Source: Down To Earth

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