Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery awaits Olive Ridleys

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Olive Ridley turtles are legally protected in India under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  7. 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).
  8. The Indian Coast Guard undertakes “Operation Olivia” every year. It is an Olive Ridley Turtle protection program.