Kendrapara, March 8 (LocalWire): Around 20 female Olive Ridley sea turtles that were tagged in Gahiramatha beach more than a decade back were spotted recently at Gahiramatha, proving that female turtles return to the same beach where they first laid eggs.
Till date, around 4.60 lakh turtles have already laid eggs on the Gahiramatha marine sanctuary in Kendrapara, known as the world’s largest rookery of sea turtles. The mass nesting of turtles this year started there on 27 February.
The state forest department in collaboration of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dehradun fitted tags on the flippers of many turtles from 1998 to 2010.
‘We have already spotted around 20 turtles with metallic tags which were fitted on their flippers more than a decade back. It is not possible for us to witness all the tagged turtles as the beach is littered with thousands of nesting turtles. All the recovered tags are marked “Gahiramatha, WII and a number,’ said Arabinda Mishra, the forest range officer of Gahiramatha Marine Sanctuary.
Finding these tag-fitted turtles proves that the females return to the same beach where they first laid eggs, he explained.
Sea turtles are tagged to recognise them for research purposes. Tagging is often conducted to obtain information on reproductive biology, movements and growth rates.
Sea turtles throughout the world are known to migrate thousands of kilometres between their nesting beaches and the feeding grounds.
‘Tagging helps us in studying the turtles’ migratory route and areas of foraging. The data also proves the interconnections of turtle populations that navigate from one country’s waters to another’s,’ Dr Basudev Tripathy, a noted turtle biologist and the deputy director of the Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, said.
‘We fitted tags on around 30,000 turtles in all the three major nesting sites in Gahiramatha, Rushikulya and Devi and had sighted them on the same beach where they were tagged. In April, 2001, the state forest department and the WII had also fitted four turtles with Platform Transmitter Terminals at Devi beach for the first time, permitting an online monitoring of migratory routes. The PTT-fitted turtles circled the waters and only one was seen to migrate south towards Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, transmitting stopped from all the four turtles after two-four months, either due to some technical problems or trawler-related mortality,’ added Dr Tripathy.
He also explained that research work showed that there is significant genetic difference between the Olive Ridley sea turtles of India with the turtles of Costa Rica, Mexico, Australia and other countries. It also quashed the myth that Olive Ridley sea turtles come from Pacific Ocean to lay eggs at Gahiramatha and Rushikulya.