Dehradun Based WII To Carry Out Second Satellite Telemetry Study On Olive Ridley Turtles In Odisha

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Dehradun: The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) here has proposed to carry out a telemetry study on Odisha’s Olive Ridleys in 2021. Thirteen years back, it had conducted a satellite telemetry study on the biological and behavioural aspects of Olive Ridley sea turtles off the Odisha coast. The current study aims to find out whether there has been any change in their migratory path.

The study, the third such by the institute, will examine whether there has been any change in the traditional migratory route of the marine turtles from the Odisha coast to Sri Lanka. It will also find out if some of these turtles stay near the Odisha shoreline instead of migrating out after the nesting season is over in March-April, Hindustan Times (HT) reported.

It will be conducted over a period of three years.

“We know that one set of the population of Olive Ridleys go to Sri Lanka while another set goes to Myanmar coast off Andaman sea. They travel for about 3000 km and return back to Odisha coast. Through this new study, we want to confirm the presence of some turtles along the Indian coast that don’t migrate out and stay within 100 nautical miles of Indian coast. Though we don’t expect any change in the migratory path, we need to study if there has been any change any change in their migratory paths and its reason. It’s going to be a very useful study,” Kuppusamy Sivakumar, a scientist in the Endangered Species Management department of WII, Dehradun was quoted as saying.

Through the new study using 30 PTTs to be done during the nesting season in April-May, the WII will try to find out the developments in the migratory paths of the turtles and study how turtle tourism can be done in Rushikulya nesting site, he said.

“We need some understanding of the current situation. More and more activities are being planned in Bay of Bengal and lot of changes are happening on the Odisha coast. As many fishermen are not happy due to loss of livelihood during the ban period, we want to know whether we can improve our action plan so that turtles are safe and fisherman can go with their livelihoods. Based on the telemetry studies we would see whether there is a need to reduce the fishing ban period or increase it. We would also see whether any change can be made to the no-fishing zone,” the WII scientist was quoted as saying.

Through the studies, the WII will also partner with Odisha government for undertaking research in the upcoming Sea Turtle Research and Conservation centre that is likely to come up over 5 acres at Gorakhakuda village near Rushikulya turtle nesting site of Ganjam district, the report added.

Olive Ridley turtle facts:

  • They are named after English biologist Henry Nicholas Ridley
  • He first reported the sighting of the turtles in Brazil in 1887
  • The omnivorous Olive Ridleys are among the smallest of the marine turtle species in the world
  • They can dive to great depths and are highly migratory, covering thousands of kilometers between foraging and nesting grounds.
  • Their tear-drop shaped carapace have an olive green colour.
  • They grow to an average of 70 cm long while adults weigh approximately 45 kgs.
  • Their mass nesting is called ‘arribada’ that happens on Odisha coast
  • Lakhs of gravid females choose narrow beaches near estuaries to lay eggs
  • Each adult female lays approximately 100-140 eggs at a time
  • ‘Arribada’ takes place in the east coast state of Odisha at three nesting grounds Gahirimatha, Devi river mouth and Rushikulya river mouth.
  • Forest department officials estimated that in March this year, around 8 lakh turtles had turtles laid eggs in Rushikulya and Gahirmatha sites.

 

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