Operation Olivia

(GS PAPER-3, Conservation

Source- The Hindu)

Context-

The Indian Coast guard  has pressed into service an aircraft for ‘Operation Oliva’ to protect Olive Ridley Turtle recently

Indian Coast Guard-

  • It is an Armed Force, Search and Rescue and Maritime Law Enforcement agency that is functioning under the Ministry of Defence. It was established in 1978.
  • It has a range of task potential for both surface and air operations. It is one of the greatest coast guards in the world.

Highlights-

Operation Oliva:

  • The Indian Coast Guard’s started “Operation Olivia”, in the early 1980s, to protect Olive Ridley turtles as they congregate along the Odisha coast for breeding and nesting from the month of November to December. It is also intercepting unlawful trawling activities.
  • Round-the-clock surveillance is taking place from November till May and utilizing Coast Guard assets such as fast petrol vessel air cushion vessels, interceptor craft and Dornier aircraft to enforce laws near the rookeries.
  • The Coast Guard is devoting 225 ship days and 388 aircraft hours to protect 3.49 lakh turtles that laid eggs along the Odisha coast.

Olive Ridley Turtles:

1. Features:

  • The Olive ridley turtles are one of the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
  • Olive Ridleys are carnivores and derive their name from their olive-colored carapace.
  • It is often seen that they migrate hundreds of kilometers between feeding and mating grounds in a year.
  • They are known for their unique mass nesting known as Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.

2.Habitat:

  • They are often found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans.
  • The Odisha’s Gahirmatha Sanctuary is worldwide known as the largest rookery of sea turtles.

3. Protection Status:

  • IUCN Red data list: Vulnerable
  • CITES Appendix I
  • Wild Life Protection Act: Schedule I

4. Threats:

  • They are hugely poached for their meat, shell and leather, and their eggs.
  • However, the most severe threat they are facing is the accidental killing through trawl nets and gill nets due to unregulated fishing during their mating season around nesting beaches.

Initiatives by Government:

  • To reduce their accidental killing in India, the Odisha government has now made it mandatory for trawlers to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), a net that is specially designed with an exit cover that allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch.

      -Khyati Khare

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