Endangered Turtles Killed On Indian Coast
India, February 5, 2002 (ENS) –
least 10,000 endangered Olive Ridley turtles have been killed in
the waters of the Bay of Bengal, a conservation group reported
Monday. Turtle carcasses have been washing up on the shores of
the Indian state of Orissa since early December.
turtles are killed when they are trapped in the nets of fishing
trawlers during December, January, February and March, their
mating season, when they congregate in their nesting grounds in
large numbers. Last year, some one million turtles are estimated
to have crowded the Orissa nesting grounds.
December and January over 10,000 turtles have died," said
Biswajit Mohanty, project coordinator of Operation Kanchappa, a
Cuttack based conservation group.
Olive ridley marine turtle (Photo courtesy government of Orissa)
The turtle death toll last year was 18,000. Mohanty said more
than 75,000 Olive Ridley turtles have been killed in the past
five years on the coast of India's Orissa state.
endangered Olive Ridley turtle grows up to 75 centimeters (25
inches) in length and is found in the tropical regions of the
Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
recent years, as many as 250,000 turtles have been known to nest
at the Gahirmatha beach during one season. Operation Kanchappa
conducted a survey across the state's 480 kilometer (300 mile)
coastline and found the carcasses of the turtles scattered
across their nesting grounds of the Gahirmatha sanctuaries and
the mouths of the Rusikulya and Devi rivers in the district of
Kendrapada, Ganjam and Puri, Mohanty said.
highest number of deaths - 2,900 – was reported from the
Gahirmatha sanctuary. During the mating period, female turtles
head for the beaches where they lay their eggs in the sand
before returning to the sea.
female turtles tend to move towards the beaches in large
synchronized concentrations. They lay their eggs at midnight in
45-centimetre pits that they dig with their rear flippers. The
number of eggs that each turtle lays varies from 60 to
100. The eggs are laid within 90 minutes of coming ashore,
laying the eggs, the female turtles cover the nests with sand.
Then they return to the sea in a zigzag manner to confuse
predators about the location of the nests.
The Orissa government has banned fishing within 10 kilometers (six
miles) of the coast, but this is observed more in its breach
since the fisheries department lacks the resources to enforce it,
Indian Coast Guard has also deployed its vessels, including a
hovercraft. Mohanty's Operation Kanchhapa provides patrol
trawlers to the state government. His organization also monitors
the beaches where the turtles lay their eggs and protect them
to date these efforts have failed to prevent illegal fishing in
in cooperation with the Indo-Asian News Service.}