While we all might have heard about the Olive Ridley sea turtles rejoicing in Odisha’s coast, there are a few who still ponder on the turtles’ annual parade to Odisha. Gahirmatha Beach, a prime nesting ground is considered to be the cradle of these endangered marine species. Even though the turtles might have skipped nesting here few times, we know for a fact that like this year, they will surely make merry in Odisha for all the years to come.
Now the inquisitive ones can lay their Olive Ridley riddle to rest, since below we have decoded certain facts and titbits about these mysterious creatures!
1. Their name is derived from their heart shaped shell
With Lepidochelys Olivacea being the scientific name, Olive Ridley is the smallest of all the sea turtle species. Interestingly, their name is derived from their heart shaped shell, which starts out gray but turns olive green once the turtles are adults. Weighing between 75-100 pounds, they reach roughly 2 feet in length.
2. Odisha is where Olive Ridleys frequent in large numbers
These mostly carnivorous turtles have few synchronised mass-nesting (arribada) places in the world. But Odisha is where they frequent in large numbers, from October to early summer. Their three major nesting places in Odisha are Gahirmatha, Devi Nadi & Rushikuliya. With the most preferred rookery being Gahirmatha beach of Kendrapada & Rushikulya beach of Ganjam, the arribada of these turtles is an amazing sight to behold.
3. Olive Ridley babies grow on their own without their mothers around … Little brave ones!!
Migrating thousands of miles each year to these beaches, the gang comes together for arribada when the female turtles lay about a hundred eggs. Thereafter the turtles leave the nesting ground to stride in the deep sea. But it still remains a mystery where they head to. It is only after 45-65 days that eggs begin to hatch, following which the crawling babies make their first trek towards the vast sea. Really brave of them to grow without their mothers around!
4. But most of the babies are not lucky enough to survive
No matter how amusing their migratory route might seem, their journey at times is treacherous. With accidental killing, preying on by crabs, birds and snakes among others, their protection becomes a major priority. And for the same reason, Odisha has since many years been rolling out initiatives for the conservation of Olive Ridley.
5. Several groups and consortiums are working towards making Odisha a healthy destination for Olive Ridleys
Local groups in Odisha such as the Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee (Rushikulya) and others have taken up the cause to work together on issues concerning the turtles. With setting up of Orissa Marine Resources Conservation Consortium, we are quite positive that Odisha will turn out to be the healthiest destination for Olive Ridley.
Here’s a visual enlightenment on the peculiar life of Olive Ridley, truly something to reflect at!