Nesting turtle numbers fall in South Asia

Dec 21, 2012
An Olive Ridley turtle returns to the sea after laying eggs on Rushikulya beach, south west of Bhubaneshwar, eastern India, on March 17, 2010. Conservationists have expressed alarm over the low number of turtles arriving on the coast of east India and Bangladesh for the nesting season, blaming overfishing and climate change for the decline.

Conservationists have expressed alarm over the low number of turtles arriving on the coast of east India and Bangladesh for the nesting season, blaming overfishing and climate change for the decline.

Between November and March, several species of sea turtle, including the Olive Ridley, travel thousands of miles to nest on the sandy shores of Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest.

"Just a few have so far been spotted. The long, wide beaches of the in the Sundarbans look empty," Pradip Vyas, director of the Indian government's Sundarbans Biosphere project, told AFP on Thursday.

"We are monitoring the six islands where lay their eggs but we fear they are not coming in such numbers due to degradation of the sea, pollution and climate change."

Straddling Bangladesh and India, the 10,000 square kilometre (3,900 square mile) Sundarbans is famous for being the largest wildlife home for endangered , but it is also a habitat for many rare .

In Bangladesh, which is home to 60 percent of the forest, said the number of turtles arriving on the pristine coastline dropped by at least 50 percent in the past 10 years.

An Olive Ridley Turtle returns to the sea after laying eggs on Rushikulya Beach, some 140 kilometres (88 miles) south-west of Bhubaneshwar, eastern India, on March 8, 2011. Conservationists have expressed alarm over the low number of turtles arriving on the coast of east India and Bangladesh for the nesting season, blaming overfishing and climate change for the decline.

"It's a very grim picture," said S.M. Rashid, head of the Dhaka-based Centre for Advanced Research in Natural Resources and Management.

"In the 1990s we could spot 50-60 turtles nesting in our beaches in a night.

"But now the number has come down to a maximum 10," said Rashid, whose team in June successfully bred a critically endangered turtle using an artificial beach habitat.

Environmentalists blame a spike in fishing and climate change causing sea levels to rise and more cyclones for the alarming drop in turtle population, and they say that humans stealing eggs is another major problem.

" has emerged as a threat to sea turtles coming to beaches of the Sundarbans," said Subrata Mukherjee, India's senior Sundarbans official, adding up to 1,500 boats now catch fish along the coast.

"A large number of sea turtles die after they are caught in fishing nets."

In the last five years, the Sundarbans were hit by two devastating cyclones, killing more than 5,000 people living in the villages along the forest.

"The nesting grounds of the marine turtle are being destroyed due to erosion and deposition of fresh sands. This is happening largely because of ," said Anurag Danda, an Indian WWF wildlife expert.

"Sea turtles are also avoiding the Sundarbans because of fierce winds during cyclones."

Explore further: Arctic expedition pioneers technique for polar bear research

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dolphin conservationists save tigers in Bangladesh

Aug 05, 2011

A team of young Bangladeshi conservationists supported by the Conservation Leadership Program and Save Our Species have stopped a fire raging across an area of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, threatening species ...

Bangladesh to set up dolphin sanctuaries

Oct 31, 2011

Bangladesh will declare three river areas in its southwest as dolphin sanctuaries, wildlife officials said Monday, in a bid to protect the country's population of endangered freshwater cetaceans.

South Asia most dangerous for sea turtles: study

Sep 29, 2011

The waters around India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are home to the world's most endangered sea turtles, according to a study released Thursday aimed at setting a blueprint for global conservation.

Recommended for you

An uphill climb for mountain species?

2 hours ago

A recently published paper provides a history of scientific research on mountain ecosystems, looks at the issues threatening wildlife in these systems, and sets an agenda for biodiversity conservation throughout ...

Extinctions during human era worse than thought

4 hours ago

It's hard to comprehend how bad the current rate of species extinction around the world has become without knowing what it was before people came along. The newest estimate is that the pre-human rate was ...

Robotics to combat slimy pest

7 hours ago

One hundred years after they arrived in a sack of grain, white Italian snails are the target of beleaguered South Australian farmers who have joined forces with University of Sydney robotics experts to eradicate ...

Migratory fish scale to new heights

8 hours ago

WA scientists are the first to observe and document juvenile trout minnow (Galaxias truttaceus Valenciennes 1846) successfully negotiating a vertical weir wall by modifying their swimming technique to 'climb' ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ScooterG
1 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2012
Another AGW scare piece.

There could be a thousand reasons why the turtle numbers are down, but the sexiest and most lucrative of course is climate change.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2012
yeah, but overfishing and habitat loss are the front runners.....
please name even 100 different reasons this could be happening? where did you study sea turtles and their behaviour at?