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The Olive Ridley is a small turtle, usually less than 100 pounds.
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Olive Ridley Turtle
Lepidochelys olivacea olivacea

FACT FILE:
Local Name: Zatoni Kchuwa (Urdu)
Family: CHELONIIDAE
Genus: Lepidochelys
Status: Rare and declining
Notes: Olive Ridley Turtles are rare and declining. Fish netting should be avoided when doing deep sea fishing. 
If you find a new hatchling, please take it to the sea and release it or contact WWF-Pakistan/Sindh Wildlife Department 

 

Photo Credit: Unknown 

 

 

Description and Biology:

General characteristics
The Olive Ridley is a small turtle, usually less than 100 pounds. Average nesting female carapace length 55 to 75cm and weighs 35kg. The overall color of this turtle is olive green.

 

Biology:  

This is an omnivorous turtle which feeds on crustaceans, mollusks and tunicates. An average clutch size is over 110 eggs which require a 52 to 58 day incubation period. Females of Lepidochelys species tend to emerge to nest in large synchronised concentrations (arribadas) when population density is sufficiently high. The main food items recorded are crabs and shrimps, but sessile and pelagic tunicates, jellyfish and other small invertebrates appear in the diet, also fish eggs. Olive Ridleys have been captured in prawn trawls at depths of 80 to 110m, so they are certainly capable of foraging at relatively great depth.

 

Habitat, Distribution and Status:
The Olive Ridley is relatively rare in Pakistan, but nestings have been reported each year at Hawksbay and Sandspit beaches off the coast of karachi. Though, large arribadas occur in two beaches in Orissa State (north-east peninsular India), on the Bay of Bengal. The Sind Wildlife Department in collaboration with WWF-Pakistan is working on a project for safe release of turtle hatchling to the Arabian sea since 1980's. A total of 654 olive ridley turtle nests were recorded at this site between 1980-1997. Olive ridley nesting at Hawkes Bay and Sandspit was only recorded between the months of March and October with a marked peak between July and September. During the entire period of study, 42 olive ridley females were tagged and 12 tag returns recorded at the nesting beaches (7 after 1 year; 4 after 2 years and 1 after 5 years). A peak of olive ridley nesting occurred during the 1987 season when 113 olive ridley nests were laid on these beaches. There has however, been a profound decline over the last decade (Figure 2). In each of 1996 and 1997 only 2 olive ridley nests were recorded.

 

Unfortunately, the Wildlife Department is shorts of funds and faces many problems. It is mainly due to these reasons that only 5,000 turtles have been tagged during the past 20 years of the project, and scores of nests go unnoticed every year.

As a result, stray dogs eat many eggs, some get disturbed due to the movement of humans and fail to mature, whereas hundreds of hatchlings die every year after being crushed under the wheels of moving vehicles, since it is their natural instinct to move towards light, and in natural conditions, the sea is the brightest object at night. Other than those mentioned above, many threats exist in the region including: beach development, fishing activities, noise from neighbouring villages, pollution from a nearby harbour and exploitation of turtle products.

 

 

Figure 2

 

 

 

Credits:

  • Dr. Muhammad Sharif Khan, Herpetological Lab Rabwah, Pakistan

  • Asrar, F. F. 1999. Decline of Marine Turtle Nesting Populations in Pakistan. Marine Turtle Newsletter 83:13-14 (http://www.seaturtle.org/mtn/archives/mtn83/mtn83p13.shtml)

  • Marine Turtles in Baluchistan (Pakistan) Marine Turtle Newsletter 42:1-3, 1988 (http://www.seaturtle.org/mtn/archives/mtn42/mtn42p1.shtml)

  • WWF-Pakistan

  • Nausherwan Ahmed


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