Record Number of Olive Ridley Turtle Eggs Found in Bangladesh
As a result of the conservation efforts of NGOs, as well as awareness on behalf of the citizens of Bangladesh, olive ridley turtle egg numbers are at a record high.
How did it Come to This?
Throughout the world, overfishing continuously presents itself as a pressing issue. Many different species have gone extinct or become incredibly threatened due to the damage the commercial fishing industry allows.
For one species, the olive ridley turtle, overfishing combined with the increasing development of the beachside areas that the turtle uses to lay its eggs are pushing it towards extinction.
The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles. It gets its name from the olive green color of its shell. The turtles are found in tropical and warm-temperate waters around the world and are an important part of the marine ecosystem.
Olive ridley turtles are omnivorous, and their diet consists of a variety of invertebrates, including jellyfish, crabs, and shrimp. They are also known to eat algae and seagrass. Olive ridley turtles are excellent swimmers, and they can travel long distances in search of food and nesting sites.
Social creatures, they often gather in large groups to nest. These mass nesting events, known as arribadas, can involve thousands of turtles. The arribadas are a spectacular sight, and they are a reminder of the importance of these turtles to the marine ecosystem.
Unfortunately, their populations have been declining due to a number of factors, including poaching, habitat loss, and bycatch. However, in Bangladesh, this trend may be changing for the better. According to a survey by Nature Conservation Management (NACOM), this year is a record high for olive ridley turtle eggs being laid along the beaches of Bangladesh.
The Damage of Tourism and Fishing.
Overfishing impacts the olive ridley turtle because of the methods used. Most fishing uses trawlers, which pull massive nets behind them to catch as many fish as possible.
However, while efficient, the trawlers often catch many things not intended to be caught. Olive ridley turtles are often the victims of this, and while these turtles can hold their breath for extended periods of time underwater, they cannot come up for air when they get trapped in these nets leading to their death.
Another issue is in regard to the birth of their young. Among other turtle species, olive ridley turtle eggs also prefer quiet, low-light beaches where they can safely lay their eggs at night.
As a result of development to facilitate the tourism industry, bright lights are everpresent, and tourists often roam around on the beaches where olive ridley turtle eggs are laid.
These two factors have significantly contributed to their decline in population; as such, conservation efforts have sprung up around the world to help these turtles get back on their feet.
In Bangladesh, these efforts have been remarkably successful, with the increase of olive ridley turtle eggs on the beaches rising since 2021. This has been due to the awareness programs instituted by NGOs and the creation of protected areas where turtles can safely lay their eggs and volunteers can help incubate them.
A survey conducted by NACOM shows that 7,528 eggs were found in 58 spots on three islands, Pachar, Shilkali, and Shahpari. This is an increase of 30% from 2022, which had an increase of 22% the year before. The survey shows that these efforts have had a tangible impact on the well-being of olive ridley turtles.
The Effort is Working
This doesn’t mean that the turtles are out of hot water, so to speak. Overfishing remains a problem for these turtles, and while there are laws in place to prevent the decline of these turtles, by and large, the fishers do not obey them.
However, this survey shows that the impact is quite real when genuine and comprehensive measures are implemented to help. It also shows that due to its impact, other measures with other species in different countries could be implemented with a similar, if not larger, impact.
Conservation and restoration are key to helping these vulnerable species get out of danger that we have created, and knowing that the work that is being done is actually helping are what often is needed to spur the implementation of other programs.