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Annual fishing ban to protect Olive Ridleys in Gahiramatha

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    4th Nov, 2019

The Odisha forest department will ban fishing between November 1, 2019-May 31, 2020, in the state’s Gahiramatha marine sanctuary to protect Olive Ridley turtles.

Context

The Odisha forest department will ban fishing between November 1, 2019-May 31, 2020, in the state’s Gahiramatha marine sanctuary to protect Olive Ridley turtles.

About

  • Gahiramatha, in the state’s Kendrapada district, was declared a marine sanctuary in 1997. Known as the world’s largest Olive Ridley rookery, the animals come in their lakhs in the waters surrounding the sanctuary in November for mating. The females lay eggs in March.
  • Trawlers and boatmen have been directed not to fish within 20 kilometres of the coastline.
  • 16 turtle protection camps have already been established including three offshore camps at Agaranashi, Barunei and Babubali islands to protect turtles in the sanctuary.
  • The Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 and its latest amendments in 2006 provide legal protection to all the sea turtle species occurring in the state.

Odisha’s Gahirmatha

  • The mass nesting of Olive Ridley sea turtles started at Odisha’s Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in Kendrapara district.
  • The sanctuary has is considered to be the world’s largest rookery of sea turtles.
  • Nearly 80,000 sea turtles came ashore at the Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 islands of the sanctuary for Arribada, a Spanish term for mass nesting.
  • The beach gets littered with thousands of nesting turtles; as a result, there is little space for laying eggs for other turtles. Many are laying eggs in the same pits dug by others. In the process, thousands of turtle eggs are being destroyed.

Olive Ridley sea turtles

  • The name for this sea turtle is tied to the color of its shell an olive green hue.
  • They are currently the most abundant of all sea turtles.
  • Their vulnerable status comes from the fact that they nest in a very small number of places, and therefore any disturbance to even one nest beach could have huge repercussions on the entire population.
  • Generally found in coastal bays and estuaries, but can be very oceanic over some parts of its range. They typically forage off shore in surface waters or dive to depths of 500 feet (150 m) to feed on bottom dwelling crustaceans.
  • The olive ridley inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
  • Sea turtles are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds.
  • All stages of a sea turtle’s life are affected by environmental conditions such as temperature even the sex of offspring. The warmer the nest beach conditions, the more female hatchlings that emerge from the eggs.
  • Warmer sea surface temperatures can also lead to the loss of important foraging grounds for marine turtles, while increasingly severe storms and sea level rise can destroy critical nesting beaches and damage nests.
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