Threats to the nests of Olive Ridley Turtles in the world’s largest sea turtle rookery at Gahirmatha, India
We report on a preliminary study of threats to olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) nesting beaches at their largest rookery in Gahirmatha, Odisha State, India during the 2012 season. We found a total of 1223 olive ridley nests, of which nearly two thirds had been destroyed by inundation and depredation. Likewise, two thirds of turtle landings, as indicated by their tracks, did not lead to nest establishment. The nest encounter rate (nests per km) was highest on beaches of isolated islets in the northern part of the rookery. Nesting frequency was 25.4 ± 6.7 nests/km with 18.5 ± 4.8 destroyed nests/km. The Gahirmatha sea turtle rookery needs continuous monitoring throughout the year to determine levels of nesting activity, non-nesting crawls, and predation threats, and we advocate for the establishment of a fence to minimize the impact of terrestrial predators on the nesting beach.