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The Olive Ridley
is the smallest of all
marine turtles with
adults measuring
about 65 cm long
and weighing 30-55 kg
 
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Scientific name (including authority details): Lepidochelys olivacea (Eschscholtz, 1829)

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English Common Names (if known): Olive ridley, Pacific ridley

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Order Family Subfamily: Testudines Cheloniidae Chelonini

The Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), also known as the Pacific Ridley, is one of the smallest species of sea turtle in the world. Aptly named after the Olive colour of its heart shaped shell, these light weight turtles have an average weight of just over 100 lbs i.e. 50 kilograms.

Some Facts of Olive Ridleys:

  • The Olive Ridley is the smallest of all marine turtles with adults measuring about 65 cm long (Straight Carapace Length) and weighing 30-55 kg

  • It is widely distributed throughout the tropics

  • Highest densities are found in the northern Indian and eastern Pacific Oceans.

  • Olive Ridley is considered to be the most abundant sea turtle in the world

  • Among the sea turtles, members of the genus Lepidochelys (L. olivacea and L. kempii) have the habit of forming huge nesting aggregations - a phenomenon popularly referred as “arribada” (Spanish for arrival).

  • During the breeding season Ridleys congregate in extremely large numbers in favourable coastal waters and resort to synchronised nesting involving thousands of individuals in suitable nesting beaches.

  • Within the Ridley’s nesting ranges, arribadas occur at only a limited number of beaches.

  • The largest nesting sites of this species are located along Bay of Bengal (Gahirmatha, Devi and Rushikulya) in eastern India and Costa Rica (Nancite and Ostional), and Mexico (La Escobilla) in the Pacifics (Valverde et al., 1998).

  • Olive Ridley usually migrates along continental shelves and feeds in shallow coastal waters.

  • Olive Ridleys are known to undertake long distance migration between breeding ground and foraging areas.

  • Mating starts soon after their arrival in the breeding grounds. Mating pair like this are a common sight off the mass nesting beaches in Orissa during every winter.

  • Mating occurs in shallow coastal waters off nesting beaches and along migratory routes.

  • After the mating season, males return to their foraging areas (Plotkin et al., 1996) where as the female turtles head towards nesting beaches.

  • Nesting takes place almost a month after mating.

  • In contrast, the Ridleys in Orissa show a distinct pattern of nesting at Gahirmatha with the arribada taking place normally twice and occasionally thrice in a year during late winter and early summer.

  • Olive Ridleys typically nest two times per season in successive arribadas.

  • Today, the largest reported arribada nesting population of olive ridleys occurs at the nesting beaches in Orissa, along the Bay of Bengal.

 
     
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