Conservation of the Olive Ridley turtles in Odisha began with the discovery and worldwide recognition of the Gahirmatha rookery close to the mouth of Brahmani-Baitarani (Dhamra) River, in 1974. A second mass nesting was discovered in 1981 at the Devi River mouth, about 55 nautical miles south of Gahirmatha. In 1994, a third mass nesting area was also discovered at the Rushikulya river mouth, 162 nautical miles south of Gahirmatha.

The Olive Ridely Turtles come to the beaches of Odisha coast annually between November and December and stay on until April and May for nesting. Off late, nesting has been observed to start from late January to early February. The turtles choose the narrow beaches near estuaries and bays for laying their eggs. Each adult female lays approximately hundred to hundred and forty eggs at a time.

The Olive Ridley's face serious threats across their migratory route, habitat and nesting beaches, due to human activities such as turtle unfriendly fishing practices, development and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centers. Though international trade in these turtles and their products is banned, they are still extensively poached for their meat, shell and leather. Turtles eggs, though illegal to harvest, have a significantly large market around the coastal regions.

The most severe threat faced by the Olive Ridleys is the accidental killing of adult turtles through entanglement in trawl nets and gill nets due to uncontrolled fishing around nesting beaches during their mating season. Over 1.3 lakh turtles are believed to have been killed after being entangled in the nets of mechanised fishing trawlers in the last thirteen years.



Rescuing of Olive Ridley Turtle by Coast Guard Personnel


All the five species of sea turtles occurring in India, including the Olive Ridley turtles, are legally protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Appendix I of the CITES Convention which prohibits trade in turtle products.

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As the nesting period stretches over six months, the Indian Coast Guard undertakes the Olive Ridely Turtle protection program under the code name 'Operation Olivia' every year. Coast Guard District No. 7 (Odisha) commenced Operation Olivia 2014 on 08 Nov 2014 under the coordination and control of Commander Coast Guard Region (North East).

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Last updated: 11/07/2024

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