Andhra Pradesh Forest Department released Olive Ridley turtle in Andhra Pradesh

Context – Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings make their way into the Bay of Bengal after being released by the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department as part of the sea turtles community conservation project at the R.K. Beach in Visakhapatnam.

Olive Ridley

  • The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
  • These turtles are carnivores and get their name from their olive coloured carapace.
  • They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
    • The olive ridley turtles turn up in millions for mass nesting along the Odisha coast every year namely at three river mouths: Dhamara, Devi and Rushikulya. 
    • Gahirmatha beach off Bay of Bengal coast in Kendrapara district is acclaimed as the world’s largest nesting ground of these turtles.
    • It extends from Dhamra River mouth in the north to Brahmani river mouth in the south. 
    • The wetland is represented by 3 Protected Areas, the Bhitarkanika National Park, the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
Diagram, map

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  • The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, Appendix 1 in CITES, and Schedule 1 in Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • They are extensively poached for their meat, shell and leather, and their eggs.
  • However, the most severe threat they face is the accidental killing through entanglement in trawl nets and gill nets due to uncontrolled fishing during their mating season around nesting beaches. In recent times, plastic pollution has also emerged as one of the greates threats to these creatures. 
  • To reduce accidental killing in India, the Odisha government has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), a net specially designed with an exit cover which allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch.

Brahmani – Baitarni Delta

The basin consisting of Brahmani and Baitarni extends over states of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh having an area of 51,822 The basin is bounded by the Chhotanagpur Plateau on the north, by the ridge separating it from Mahanadi basin on the west and the south and by the Bay of Bengal on the east. The lower reaches of this basin near the deltaic area are subject to floods. Since Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani are interconnected near their delta, worst flood occur when there is simultaneous heavy rains in all the three catchments. Prolonged submergence and breaching of embankments are common occurrences during floods. Floods are also caused from cyclonic storms since the coastal areas of the basin are cyclone prone.

Bhitarkanika national park is situated at the mouth of Brahmani, Baitarni and Dhamra rivers which is famous for saltwater crocodiles. Dense mangrove forests are found here. There also lies Gahirmatha beach and Gahirmatha wildlife sanctuary which is world’s largest ground for Olive Ridley Turtles. 

Marine Turtles

Five species of sea turtles are known to inhabit Indian coastal waters and islands.

  1. Olive Ridley turtle 
  2. Green turtle
  3. Hawksbill turtle
  4. Loggerhead turtle
  5. Leatherback turtle

Except the Loggerhead, the remaining four species nest along the Indian coast.

Difference between Tortoise and Turtle

All tortoises are in fact turtles—that is, they belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia, reptiles having bodies encased in a bony shell—but not all turtles are tortoises.

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It is aquatic and marine formThey are exclusively on land
Comparatively smaller in sizeLarger
Some turtles are fish eatersThey are herbivorous and feed entirely on vegetation
Their head is partially withdrawn into the shellIt can be completely withdrawn into the shell
Turtles have thinner, more water-dynamic shells.  Turtle shells are more streamlined to aid in swimming.Tortoises have more rounded and domed shells
Turtles will have more flipper like legs, or webbed feet to make it easier to cruise through the water.Tortoises have club-like forelegs and ‘elephantine’ hind legs. Because tortoise are often larger and heavier, their elephantine hind legs help them move around and carry the extra weight

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