Sea Turtles Of India


Nesting species: olive ridley

Non-nesting species: green, leatherback (speculative)

The state of Karnataka on the west coast of India has a 260 km long coastline, which is mostly rocky and is interspersed with a few sandy beaches. The three coastal districts of the state are Dakshina Kannada, Udipi and Uttara Kannada.

The olive ridley sea turtle is the only species of sea turtle known to nest along the coast of Karnataka. There are some media reports of large turtles occurring in the small islands off the Honnavar coast, possibly green or leatherback turtles. The nesting of olive ridleys is sporadic along this coast with the peak nesting season occurring from September to October.


1.Karnataka 2.Karwar
Map of southern Karnataka coast Map of northern Karnataka coast

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The large-scale seashore erosion along the coast of Karnataka and the resultant mitigatory response of building armouring structures such as seawalls is a common phenomenon, and vast stretches of this coastline have been rendered unsuitable for turtle nesting. Coastal roads and illumination also pose big problems. However, despite the presence of many industries, sea walls, shipping and fishing ports and coastal roads, sea turtles still nest on sandy, relatively undisturbed beaches. These nesting sites are monitored by fishing communities to harvest eggs, which generate supplementary income. Both religious sentiments and awareness of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 prevents the killing of adult sea turtles, but the take of eggs is fairly common. Predation by domestic and feral dogs and consumption of turtle eggs by coastal communities are the major threats to the olive ridley populations that nest on this coast. Offshore mortality is mostly due to incidental catch in fishing gear.

There are a large number of non-governmental organisations on the Karnataka coast, most of which work with coastal fishing communities. The involvement of local people in turtle walks and other conservation activities such as nest protection programmes have contributed significantly to conservation, creating awareness among the fishing communities and the general public about the importance of conserving these turtles.

Source: Sharath, B.K. 2006. Sea turtles along the Karnataka coast. In: Marine turtles of the Indian subcontinent (Eds. Shanker, K. & B.C. Choudhury). Pp. 141–146. Universities Press (India) Private Ltd.

Important Publications

Kar, C.S. & S. Bhaskar. 1982. Status of sea turtles in the eastern Indian ocean. In: Biology and conservation of sea turtles (Ed. Bjorndal, K.). Pp. 365–372. Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington D.C.

Chandarji, S.L. 1984. Status of sea turtle conservation in Karnataka state. In: Proceedings of the workshop on sea turtle conservation (Ed. Silas, E.G.), pp. 109. CMFRI Special Publication 18: 120 p.

Madhyastha, M.N., B.K. Sharath & I.J. Jayaprakash Rao. 1986. Preliminary studies on marine turtle hatchery at Bengre beach, Mangalore. Mahasagar-Bulletin of the National Institute of Oceanography 19(2): 137–140.

Frazier, J. 1989. Survey of the marine turtle hatcheries of Karnataka. Hamadryad 14(2): 8–18.

Sharath, B.K. 2003. Status survey of sea turtles along the Karnataka coast, India. A GOI-UNDP project report. Department of Biosciences, University of Mysore, Karnataka.

Sharath, B.K. 2006. Sea turtles along the Karnataka coast. In: Marine turtles of the Indian subcontinent (Eds. Shanker, K. & B.C. Choudhury). Pp. 141–146. Universities Press (India) Private Ltd.

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