More than 10,000 baby turtles have been released into the sea off the Indonesian island of Bali. Olive ridley turtle releases are part of conservationists’ attempts to boost the population and promote environmental protection.
Conservation groups carried crates each full of dozens of tiny turtles to the island’s Gianyar beach on Friday and encouraged local people and volunteers to line up on the sand and release the hatchlings together.
The turtles, just a few inches long, scurried over the black sand and pebbles as the tide splashed over them.
It’s really exciting to see all of these turtles being released into the wildJessica Lieberman, volunteer
Olive ridley turtles are among the most abundant sea turtles but are still considered vulnerable because there are few places in which they will nest. The turtles typically weigh 34-50kg as an adult and grow to 60-70cm long.
Flavianus Erwin Putranto, a conservation volunteer, said turtle eggs were appearing in fewer places on Bali than before, but programmes to help protect them were seeing success. “We are able to collect and save them. Hopefully we can hatch more turtles and release them back into the ocean,” he said.
Sea turtle populations have declined in recent years due to hunting, loss of beach nesting sites, over-harvesting of their eggs and being caught in fishing gear.
Bali authorities released 25 of the larger green turtles into the sea on Wednesday after their rescue last month during a raid on illegal traffickers.
Agus Budi Santoso, head of the Bali Natural Resources and Conservation Centre, recommended creating a “green zone” of designated beaches for turtles to lay eggs safely, away from hotels.
5 facts about olive ridley turtles…
- Olive and Kemp’s ridleys are the smallest of the sea turtles, weighing up to 100 pounds and reaching only about 2 feet in shell length.
2. Olive turtles are solitary, preferring the open ocean. They migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles every year, and come together as a group only once a year for the arribada when females return to the beaches where they hatched and lumber onshore, sometimes in the thousands, to nest.
3. Olive ridleys have nesting sites all over the world, on tropical and subtropical beaches. During nesting, they use the wind and the tide to help them reach the beach. Females lay about a hundred eggs, but may nest up to three times a year. The nesting season is from June to December.
4. The olive ridley is mostly carnivorous, feeding on such creatures as jellyfish, snails, crabs, and shrimp. They will occasionally eat algae and seaweed as well. Hatchlings, most of which perish before reaching the ocean, are preyed on by crabs, raccoons, pigs, snakes, and birds, among others. Adults are often taken by sharks.
5. Though the olive ridley is widely considered the most abundant of the marine turtles, by all estimates, it is in trouble. Its numbers, particularly in the western Atlantic, have declined precipitously.
Many governments have protections for olive ridleys, but still, eggs are taken and nesting females are slaughtered for their meat and skin. Fishing nets also take a large toll, frequently snagging and drowning these turtles.