Chat Archives
Chat on "Conservation of seaturtles" dated April 18, 2004

    Susan Today we are meeting in the chat room to discuss" Conservation of seaturtles". The moderator is Dr. Kartik Shanker.

    Susan Kartik started working on sea turtles over 15 years ago and is currently working on sea turtle conservation genetics both on the mainland coast as well as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

    kartik Hi Just logging on now

    Susan Hi Kartik, welcome

    Susan Hope you had no problem logging in

    kartik No problem at all. Thanks for the reminders. Though my father heard about this in the morning and called about it.

    kartik I also read a little bit of Ravi's interactions last week

    Susan Hope that an enthused crowd will come in today too.

    kartik Yes, sea turtles these days seem to attract almost as much attention as tigers and elephants

    Susan If you have to think of a flagship species for the sea, what will it be? be?

    kartik whales, dolphins, sea turtles - there is a book coming out in the next year or so talking about the use of sea turtles as flagships. I have written about this aspect in India

    Susan Are you a co-author?

    kartik it is an edited volume the editor is Jack Frazier of the Smithsonian, who has been working on sea turtles for more than 30 years.

    kartik Roshni kutty of Kalpavriksh and I have co-authored the chapter on sea turtles as flagships in India.

    nishant hi

    Susan Hi Nishant

    kartik hi nishant

    nishant are my messages visible to you two...

    kartik yes

    Susan When did we start getting concerned about sea turtles, what was the trigger?

    kartik from 1974, when Robert Bustard 'discovered' Gahirmatha. some years later, the extensive meat trade from Orissa to West Bengal was documented and became a major conservation issue

    nishant I have heard that Orissa has long beaches where sea turtles come each year and lay eggs... are these eggs are protected by government or some sort of agency...

    kartik all sea turtles and their eggs are protected by law since they are in schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife Act. In Orissa, Gahirmatha is part of the Bhitarkanika sanctuary.

    kartik the current major threat is that more than 10000 turtles die each year as incidental catch in trawl and gill net fisheries

    nishant so what is the solution to this -10000 in numbers each year...

    Susan Are there similar nesting sites in any other part of the world?

    kartik there are Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) for trawlers and area time closures for gill netters - but the fishermen have to be convinced to participate

    kartik susan, olive ridley mass nesting beaches are found in pacific costa Rica, pacific Mexico and in Orissa.

    nishant fishermen do not install these devices.. right? what is the reason for them not installing them...

    kartik one, they believe that they will also lose a lot of their fish catch. now this is not true if the TED is used properly. but this is where education comes in. the issue has become very politically charged in Orissa

    nishant ok

    Susan Do Mexico & Costa Rica face similar problems?

    kartik yes, very much so. things very bad a couple of decades ago but Effective protection in Mexico has seen their nesting figures go up to Nearly a million per year

    nishant what are the other causes of decline in sea turtle's population in India... does production rate play some role in this...

    Susan The fishermen there are using TED?

    kartik there have been similar problems there getting fishermen to use TEDs but they have been at it for a couple of decades so there is some progress now kartik other major causes are loss of habitat (due to erosion, beachfront development, beach armouring), predation of eggs by feral animals, lighti

    nishant where do the turtles come in food chain...

    Susan How long does the nesting season last normally?

    Susan Welcome Sadan

    kartik the nesting season for olive ridleys in Orissa is December to April. it differs for other species

    kartik to answer nishant, some turtles are complete herbivores, like green turtles, leatherbacks eat only jellyfish, while others like loggerheads and ridleys are omnivorous

    sanjayan hai everybody

    nishant hi Sanjayan

    Susan Sanjayan & Santosh, shoot your queries

    kartik hi all

    nishant where do the turtles get the market (as meat) ...

    sanjayan I would like to know what are the practical problems that one manager will face while managing such a sensitive and fragile zones where turtle nests

    kartik there is very little meat trade in India now, mostly local in a few places like southern Tamil nadir, Kerala. and some consumption by local tribes in the Nicobar.

    kartik all over India, coastal development is a major problem. associated problems of sand mining, erosion and armouring are threats. and also lighting which disorients turtle hatchlings and prevents them from reaching the sea

    sanjayan I have been to gahirmatha in Orissa and Cutbertbay sanctuary in Betapur, Andamans and on interacting with the local people it is known that a well netted mafia is running for long and the department and the government couldn't do much .I would like to know some of your suggestions regarding the turtle management

    kartik mafia for what ?

    sanjayan I mean turtle traders I would say export to other countries

    kartik there is currently little trade in sea turtles in India at all, and almost certainly no export. perhaps you mean freshwater turtles and tortoises for which there is a widespread traffic throughout Southeast Asia

    sanjayan so u say that coastal department is a major problem then one of the possibility of remedy may be the the sensitive coastal zones may be governed by the department of forest

    kartik the forest department has its limitations, the coast is extensively inhabited by people. there has to be responsible coastal management amongst a wide group of stakeholders (industry, residents, fishing communities), more education and awareness for all ...

    sanjayan well how far the implementation of TED is successful or is it any substantial success story in the inclusion of TED sanjayan what in your opinion will be best-suited management plan in these areas

    kartik the state institute of fisheries technology has been distributing TEDs in Vishakapatnam and Kakinada and fishers are supposedly using them in those areas. that's a big success. no success in Orissa though

    Susan Santosh & Sadan, are you there?

    kartik by the way, it is a TED indigenised by the Central Institute of Fish. Tech. in Kochi

    sanjayan how in these areas the monitoring of TED can be done since we don't have facility to control all

    sanjayan is it any joint patrolling is done by the forest officials, coastal department and coast guards etc

    kartik for resource poor countries, monitoring is almost impossible. even USA had trouble actually monitoring the use of TEDs. the fishermen need to be convinced that they will also benefit - the TED excludes all large bycatch and actually helps them get larger and better catches of their target species

    sanjayan is the TED is supplied free of cost

    sanjayan why cant in India we can start a massive breeding progamme on lines with that of crocodile breeding started in mid 70s kartik as of now, yes

    kartik sea turtles are long lived species with complex life cycles that include long distance migrations thousands of km across oceans. most of the mortality occurs in the sea. so breeding programs may not be quite as effective

    kartik having said that, there are hatcheries all over the country (run by ngos and govt) that protect the eggs from poaching and predation

    sanjayan why can't we can have a model in situ breeding programme initially for at least research purpose

    kartik I wouldn't call them breeding programs, but there are already in situ and ex situ conservation and research programs on nesting beaches throughout the country

    kartik what would you want a breedng program to acheive?

    sanjayan what in your opinion should be our future strategy in achieving the overall objective of protection of turtles

    Susan The conservation approach here is in protecting the whole life cycle of the ridley, which spans many geographical areas and time zones.

    kartik I would agree with that. local and international cooperation is a must - sea turtles have been called the ocean's ambassadors of conservation

    kartik for conservation in general, I would advocate education and awareness and more education and awareness

    sanjayan my intension regarding the progarmme is to get maximum production of eggs such that we can a sustained viable population of turtles

    Susan breeding can protect the species from extinction for some time but the ridley so, protected will only be a shadow of the real one.

    kartik unfortunately, there is a lot of mortality at sea that we can't prevent . and susan is right, it's not a sustainable approach

    sanjayan Thanks for answering my queries patiently. Hope we I will get an another opportunity to interact with you on some other day. Wishing you and your, I would say our, mission a very success. Bye

    Susan Kartik, it has been wonderful listening to you and I think all of us enjoyed the session.

    kartik thanks sanjayan, it was my pleasure. We have a newsletter called kachhapa that gives more information. you can get this and our sea turtle conservation manuals at

    Susan If there are no more questions, shall we close the chat room?

    kartik Thanks all. I will sign off now. Best wishes.

    Susan Thanks Kartik, any more resource sites you would suggest- something from Costa Rica may be?

    kartik the Caribbean conservation corporation site is a good one - I think it is

    Susan Thank You and Bye!

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