Positive Environment News

Key Facts About Threatened Olive Ridley Turtles

Date: 05-Apr-07

Here are some facts about Olive Ridleys, and efforts to save the species.

* The Olive Ridley is among the smallest of the world's seven species of marine turtles but the most numerous, with around 800,000 nesting females according to conservation group the WWF. They grow to around 70 cm (28 inches) long and adults weigh around 45 kg (100 lb). Their lifespan is around 50 to 60 years.

* Found in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the Olive Ridley and its sister species, Kemp's Ridley, are the only turtles to exhibit sychronised nesting behaviour; called "arribadas" (Spanish for "arrival"). The east coast beaches of Orissa, India, see the highest number of nesting females, but Olive Ridleys also visit the beaches in Costa Rica and Mexico en masse.

* Females dig a pit on the beach and lay more than 100 eggs which hatch together at night around 50 days later. Just one in 1,000 of the hatchlings reach adulthood. The baby turtles drift for hundreds of kilometres on ocean currents before the females make it back to the beaches where they were born to nest.

* Once slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands for meat and leather, omnivorous Olive Ridleys have yet to recover from centuries of overexploitation. Along with five other marine turtles, they are listed as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

* Conservationists say it is vital to protect the few nesting beaches which survive. They are also trying to convince trawlers to use Turtle Excluder Devices in their nets - flaps which would allow turtles to escape and avoid entanglement.

Source: Reuters

© Thomson Reuters 2007 All rights reserved

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