Olive Ridley Turtles : a threatened species

Olive Ridley Turtles

Question:- Olive Ridley Turtles- a threatened species. Discuss.

The name comes from the greenish color of its skin and shell. Olive ridleys are the smallest of the sea turtles. These are solitary creatures who prefer the open ocean. The size and morphology of the olive ridley differ from region to region, with the largest of them observed on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Adult turtles are relatively small.

Nesting: The olive ridleys have one of the most unusual nesting habits in the natural world. Tropical and sub tropical beaches make nesting sites for the Olive ridleys where large groups of turtles gather off shore where all at once in vast numbers come ashore and nest in what is known as an arribada. During these arribadas, a huge number of female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. A lot of nesting beaches are over crowded, so much so that previously laid egg clutches are dug up by other females excavating the nest in order to lay their own eggs. Females nest every year, once or twice a season, laying approximately 100 eggs at a time and the incubation takes about 2 months. The nesting season is from June to December. A lot of probe and research into arribada has taken place. They make use of the wind and the tide to reach the beach for nesting.
The Olive ridley is mostly carnivorous, feeding on creatures such as jellyfish, snails, crabs, shrimp etc. They occassionaly also consume seaweed and algae.
They help sustain the marine biodiversity.

Threatned species: Olive ridleys are abundant compared to other marine turtles, yet the hatchlings and some times even the adult turtles fall prey to pigs, birds, snakes etc. The adults are taken by sharks. They face serious threats. Eggs are forcefully taken away and nesting females are slaughtered for their meat and skin. Fishing nets also take a large toll. Many countries have listed them as endangered due to these reasons where even humans have a role to play. However, the most severe threat they face is the accidental death of adult turtles through entanglement in trawl nets due to uncontrolled fishing methods during their mating season around nesting beaches.

Olive ridleys are globally distributed in the tropical regions of the South Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. In the South Atlantic Ocean, they are found along the Atlantic coasts of West Africa and South America. In the Eastern Pacific, they occur from Southern California to Northern Chile.

1. Distribution: Olive ridlyes are known to often migrate great distances between feeding and breeding seasons. Arribadas, occur on a few beaches worldwide, in the eastern Pacific and northern Indian oceans, in the countries of Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and India. In the northern Indian Ocean, arribadas occur on three different beaches along the coast of India.

The governments of various countries has taken measures towards protection of these species. International trade in these turtles and their products is banned under CITES Appendix I, but are still extensively poached for their meat, shell and leather. Their eggs, although illegal to harvest, have a significantly large market around the coastal regions. Thus extensive measures are taken in order to protect the ridlyes.
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