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Marine turtles tagged in Odisha after nearly two decades

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    14th Jan, 2021

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and the Odisha forest department tagged six sea turtles at Rushikulya, a mass-nesting site for Olive Ridley sea turtles in Ganjam district.

Key-details of Sea turtles

  • Sea turtles are large, air-breathing reptiles that inhabit tropical and subtropical seas throughout the world.
  • Sea turtles do not have teeth, but their jaws have modified “beaks” suited to their particular diet. They do not have visible ears but have eardrums covered by skin. 
  • Sea turtles are also known to migrate over thousands of kilometres between their nesting beaches and feeding grounds all over the world. 
  • Reproduction: Only females come ashore to nest; males rarely return to land after crawling into the sea as hatchlings. Most females return to nest on the beach where they were born (natal beach). Nesting seasons occur at different times around the world.

Sea Turtle Classification

  • Common name: Sea Turtles
  • Scientific name: Cheloniidae, Dermochelyidae
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
    • Class Reptilia includes snakes, lizards, crocodiles, and turtles. Reptiles are ectothermic (cold-blooded) and are vertebrates (have a spine). All
      reptiles have scaly skin, breathe air with lungs, and have a three-chambered heart. Most reptiles lay eggs.
  • Order: Testudines
    • Order Testudines includes all turtles and tortoises. It is divided into three suborders. Pleurodira includes side-necked turtles, Cryptodira includes
      all other living species of turtles and tortoises, and Amphichelydia includes all extinct species.
  • Suborder: Cryptodira
    • Suborder Cryptodira includes freshwater turtles, snapping turtles, tortoises, soft-shelled turtles, and sea turtles.
  • Family: Cheloniidae or Dermochelyidae. Sea turtles fall into one of two families.
    • Family Cheloniidae includes sea turtles which have shells covered with scutes (horny plates).
    • Family Dermochelyidae includes only one modern species of sea turtle, the leatherback turtle. Rather than a shell covered with scutes, leatherbacks have leathery skin.

What is the purpose of tagging?

  • ZSI will fit metallic flipper tags on 30,000 turtles in the state this year during their mass-nesting. All tags are marked with a number.
  • Sea turtles are tagged to help researchers recognise individuals or cohorts.
  • Tagging is most often conducted to obtain information on reproductive biology, movements and growth rates.
  • The tagging helps in studying their migratory route and areas of foraging. Tagging data also proves the interconnections of turtle populations that navigate from one country’s waters to another.

Previous tagging

  • The last time the forest department had fitted tags on 35,000 turtles was from 1994 to 1998.
  • In 2001, the forest department, along with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), had fitted four turtles with Platform Transmitter Terminals (PTT), at Devi beach in Puri district.

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