Olive Ridley turtles have not yet arrived for
mass nesting at Rushikulya rookery and Devi river mouth in Odisha. A rookery is
a communal nesting ground of animals.
The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest and
most abundant of all sea turtles in the world. They inhabit in the warm waters
of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. It is listed as Vulnerable in the
IUCN Red List.
The Olive Ridley turtles are best known for
their unique mass nesting called Arribada. During Arribada, a large number of
female turtles come together on the same beach to lay eggs. Such mass nesting
phenomenon is also observed among Kemps Ridley turtle.
An important breeding area for olive Ridleys in
the Indian Ocean along the Bay of Bengal is Odisha. There are three major mass
nesting areas: a) Gahirmatha rookery close to the mouth of Brahmani-Baitarani Rivers,
b) Devi river mouth and c) Rushikulya river mouth.
The major threats to Olive Ridley turtles are:
a) poor fishing practices, b) development and exploitation of nesting beaches
for ports, and tourist centres, c) poaching for their meat, shell and leather.
Olive Ridley turtles are legally protected in
India under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
It is also listed in Appendix I of the CITES
Convention. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. It aims
to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants is not
detrimental to the survival of wild populations. Appendix I of CITES prohibits
international trade in specimens of endangered species except when the purpose
of the import is not commercial (e.g. Scientific research).
The Indian Coast Guard undertakes “Operation
Olivia” every year. It is an Olive Ridley Turtle protection program.