Sea Turtle News of the day, genocide edition

Depressing as always, but this is a yearly headline around turtle nesting season.

1,000 Giant Turtles Wash Ashore in India, Bangladesh

It’s nesting season for the sea turtles of Bangladesh and India, but this year the beaches where the animals lay their eggs are eerily still.

Nearly a thousand dead turtles have washed ashore along the coasts of both countries in the past few weeks, conservation workers report.

About 200 dead reptiles have appeared in the past week alone along a single stretch of beach, pictured here, in the Bangladeshi tourist town of Cox’s Bazar (see Bangladesh map).

A team of scientists visiting the beach on Monday to investigate the mysterious mass deaths concluded that fishing nets were to blame.

Sea turtles swarming the shores to nest are getting entangled in poorly laid nets and drowning, the experts told Bangladesh’s Financial Express.

The survival rate of turtle hatchlings is estimated at anywhere between 0.1 and 1%. Assuming 0.5%, this represents 20000 hatchlings. Assuming a hatching success (not all eggs hatch successfully) of about 2/3rds, that is 30,000 eggs, or between 200-250 nests. In my two years of turtle conservation work on an approximately 3 mile stretch of beach, we relocated about a 100 nests. These aren’t the same turtles (they tend to come back to nest very close to where they hatched), but there’s my two seasons of work down the drain and then some!

Turtle safe fishing is a well researched technology and is not expensive. As I have mentioned before in a similar context, the gaps between the availability of a certain technology and its actual adoption and use are depressingly huge.

When it comes to serious problems like global warming, all the talk is going to be about the cool science and innovative solutions, but how the technology transfers to India and China, how it is implemented, and the nature of the interactions between the traditional powers and the emerging ones is going to be more critical than the science. Something to remember as a scientist!

3 comments for “Sea Turtle News of the day, genocide edition

  1. Shaylin
    March 1, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Hi! I was hoping to find some more information on olive ridley turtles…my friend and I will be travelling through India from March 4-20 this year and would love to see the turtles hatching if possible. Even better would be to volunteer to help out, so I am wondering which organizations to contact about doing this. Or whether I can just show up. Do you know when approximately the turtles will be hatching and who I can contact about helping? Any info you could provide would be very much appreciated, thank you 🙂

  2. March 1, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Shaylin:

    Cool! Hope you enjoy your trip, if it is your first time, prepare to be utterly overwhelmed!

    Early March would be the beginning of the hatching season as the Olive Ridley starts nesting end of December and the first nests hatch end of February-Beginning of March. Where are you going to be? The East coast is where most of the turtles nest. The Bhitarkanika national park in Orissa is the site of an Arribada (or mass nesting). I can get you the contact info for people in Chennai who would be able to take you out on a turtle walk (if they’re still doing that, I would need to check).

  3. kathy
    March 10, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Hello turtle lovers!
    I am also in India right now (March 10th) and I am working on a children’s book about sea turtles. I would love to come to the east asap to help out as well. Can you let me know who I can contact?
    Thanks,
    Kathy