Project Title: Determining the offshore distribution and migration pattern of olive ridley sea turtle along the east coast of India

Main investigators: B.C. Choudhury and K. Sivakumar

Institution: Wildlife Institute of India

Project Partners: Orissa State Forest Department, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India

Location: Orissa, India

Duration: November 2006  – 2011

Species in focus: Olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)

Abstract: A better understanding of the distribution, habitat requirement and movement pattern of olive ridley sea turtles Lepidochelys olivacea in the coastal waters off the Orissa coast is essential for their long term conservation and also for rational planning of developmental activities such as possible hydrocarbon exploration in this region. In this connection, the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun (WII) under the direction of Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), Government of India and in collaboration with the Wildlife Wing of the Orissa Forest Department (OFD), Government of Orissa, initiated a study to determine the offshore distribution and migration pattern of Olive Ridley Sea Turtle along the east coast of India. This study is being funded by the Director General of Hydrocarbon, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India.


  1. To estimate abundance and spatial distribution of adult and mating turtles off the mass nesting sites in Orissa to determine their critical marine habitat requirements during the breeding season.
  2. To study the movement of satellite tagged turtles in the coastal waters along the east coast of India in the Bay of Bengal and beyond.
  3. To track the long range migratory route of the adult olive ridley and to determine the non-breeding area for the ridleys using the east coast of India for nesting.
  4. To determine various other environmental parameters and possible impacts of developmental activities, both in the marine and coastal nesting habitats.

Key Findings:

  1. Olive ridleys arriving in the Orissa coastal waters to breed remained within 5 km from the coastline from December to May.
  2. Satellite tagged turtles showed both directed as well as random movements en route their non-breeding areas. Many of the turtles migrated to the south east coast of Sri Lanka and circled around in the waters of the Andaman Sea.

Potential areas of future research: Offshore ecology and behaviour of olive ridleys

Contact Details: R. Suresh Kumar,

Department of Endangered Species Management

Wildlife Institute of India

Post Box # 18, Chandrabani

Dehradun – 248 001