Nesting and hatching behaviour of Olive Ridley Turtles Lepidochelys olivacea (Eschscholtz, 1829) (Reptilia: Cryptodira: Cheloniidae) on Dr. Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha, India

Main Article Content

P. Poornima


This paper reports the nesting, impact of lunar phase and rainfall on mass nesting, hatching, and hatchling behaviour of L. olivacea in Dr. Abdul Kalam Island, Bhadrak District, Odisha.  The study site is a well-known rookery for this species.  A study of 15 mass nesting events between 2003 and 2020 using Rayleigh’s test indicated that the onset of mass nesting was not uniform across a lunar month, but was most intense towards the beginning of the fourth quarter moon (mean lunar day = 22.44).  Also, rainfall and mass-nesting data from 2015 to 2020 revealed that ≥3.2 mm rainfall in February delayed mass nesting from the second fortnight of February to the end of the first fortnight of March.  Sporadic nesting continued after hatching commenced in May, and continued until the end of May 2020, with an average of three turtles nesting each day.  At night, a cohort of hatchlings from individual nests emerged synchronously.  Before emergence they remained a little beneath the sand surface in airy-shallow pits.  During hatchling emergence these pits fill with sand, leaving depressions described as “emergence craters” in recent literature on L. olivacea.  To study hatchling emergence 30 such craters were examined in May 2020, and the numbers of emerged hatchlings per cohort varied from 28 to 182.  Of 30 craters examined, 28 were circular and two were elliptical, with diameters varying between 10 and 26 cm.  Pearson’s correlation coefficient between the numbers of emerged hatchlings and crater diameter was 0.38.  Hatchlings took 17 min 22 sec (SD= ±5min 30 sec) on average to reach the sea from a mean distance of 34.6m.

Article Details



Abreu-Grobois, A & P. Plotkin (2008). (IUCN SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group), Lepidochelys olivacea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T11534A3292503. Downloaded on 07 March 2021.

Arauz, R. (2000). Impact of high-seas long time fishery operations on shark and sea turtles populations in Economic Exclusive Zone of Costa Rica. Unpublished report, Earth Island Institute/Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP), Costa Rica,15pp.

Behera, S., B. Tripathy, B.C. Choudhury & S. Kuppusamy (2010). Behaviour of Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) prior to arribada at Gahirmatha, Orissa, India. Herpetology 3: 273­­–274.

Bezy, V.S., F.P. Nathan, A.U. James, M.O. Carlos, G.F. Luis, M.Q.P. Wagner, A.V. Roldan & J.L. Kenneth (2020). Mass-nesting events in Olive Ridley sea turtles: environmental predictors of timing and size. Animal Behaviour 163: 85–94.

Bishop, G.A., F.L. Pirkle, B.K. Meyer & W.A. Pirkle (2011). The foundation for sea turtle geoarchaeology and zooarchaeology: morphology of recent and ancient sea turtle nests, St. Catherines Island, Georgia, and Cretaceous Fox Hills Sandstone, Elbert County, Colorado, Chapter 13, pp. 247–269. In: Bishop, G.A., H.B. Rollins & D.H. Thomas (eds.). Geoarchaeology of St. Catherines Island, Georgia. American Museum of Natural History Anthropological Papers 94.

Burger, J. & M. Gochfield (2014). Factors affecting locomotion in Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) hatchlings crawling to the sea at Ostional Beach, Costa Rica. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 13(2): 182–190.

Burney, C. & W. Margolis (1998). Technical report 1998, Sea Turtle conservation Program, Department of Natural Resources Protection, Broward County, Florida, USA, 6pp.

Bustard, H.R. (1976). World’s largest sea turtle rookery? Tiger Paper 3: 25.

Carr, A. & L. Ogren (1960). The ecology and migration of sea turtles 4: The Green turtle in the Caribbean sea. Bulleting of the American Museum of Natural History 121: 1–48.

Carr, A. & H. Hirth (1961). Social facilitation in green turtle siblings. Animal Behaviour 9: 68–70.

Coria-M, E. & E. Durán-Campos (2017). The relationship between the massive nesting of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) and the local physical environment at La Escobilla, Oaxaca, Mexico, during 2005. Hidrobiológica 27(2): 201­–209.

Cornelius, S.E. (1986). The Sea Turtles of Santa Rosa National Park. Fundacion de Parques Nacionales, Monograph, San Jose, 134pp

Cornelius, S.E., M.A. Ulloa, J.C. Castro, M.M. Del Valle & D.C. Robinson (1991). Management of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) nesting at Playas Nancite and Ostional, Costa Rica, pp. 111–115. In: Robinson, J.G. & K.H. Redford (Eds.). Neotropical Wildlife Use and Conservation. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Dash, M.C. & C.S. Kar (1990). The Turtle Paradise: Gahirmatha. Interprint, New Delhi, 295pp.

Fretey, J. (2001). Biology and Conservation of Marine Turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa. CMS Technical Series Publication No. 6. UNEP/CMS Secretariat, Bonn, Germany, 429pp.

Hays, G.C., A.C. Broderick, F. Glen & B.J. Godley (2003). Climate change and sea turtles: a 150-year reconstruction of incubation temperatures at a major marine turtle rookery. Global Change Biology 9(4): 642–646.

Hart, C.E., C.L. Quiñónez, A.M. Gasca, A.Z. Norzagaray & F.A.A. Grobois (2014). Nesting characteristics of olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) on El Naranjo Beach, Nayarit, Mexico. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 9: 524–534.

Hendrickson, J.R. (1958). The Green Sea Turtle Chelonida mydas (Linn.) in Malaya and Sawarak. Proceedings of the Zoological Society, London 130: 455–535.

Herbst, L.H. (1994). Fibropapillomatosis of marine turtles. Annual Review of Fish Diseases 4: 389­–425.

Kar, C.S. (1982). Discovery of second mass nesting ground of the Pacific Olive Ridley Sea Turtles in Orissa, India. Tiger Paper 1: 5–7.

Kar, C.S. & S. Bhaskar (1982). The status of sea turtles in the eastern Indian Ocean, pp. 365–372. In: Bjorndal, K. (ed.). The Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Kumar, S., J. Sajan, S. Kuppusamy & B. Choudhary (2013). Egg laying duration in the olive Ridley turtle Lepidochelys olivacea and its relevance for the estimation of mass nesting population size. The Herpetological Journal 23: 23–28.

Limpus, C.J. (1971). Sea turtle ocean finding behaviour. Search 2: 385–387.

Maulany, R.I., D.T. Booth & G.S. Baxter (2012). The effect of incubation temperature on hatchling quality in the olive ridley turtle, Lepidochelys olivacea, from Alas Purwo National Park, East Java, Indonesia: implications for hatchery management. Marine Biology 159: 2651–2661.

Mrosovsky, N. (1968). Nocturnal emergence of sea turtles. Control by thermal inhibition of activity. Nature 220: 1338–1339.

Mrosovsky, N. & S.J. Shettleworth (1968). Wavelength preferences and brightness cues in the water finding behaviour of sea turtles. Behaviour 32(4): 211–257.

Packard, G.C., M.J. Tracy, & J.J. Roth (1977). The physiological ecology of reptilian eggs and embryos, and the evolution of viviparity within the Class Reptilia. Biological Reviews 52: 71–105.

Pandav, B. (2000). Conservation and Management of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) in Orissa, India. Final Report, Wildlife Institute of India, 61pp.

Pandav, B., B.C. Choudhury & C.S. Kar (1994). A status survey of Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) and their nesting beaches along the Orissa coast, India. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India, 48pp.

Pandav, B. & B.C. Choudhary (1999). An update on the mortality of Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in Odisha, India. Marine Turtle Newsletter 83: 10–12.

Pandav, B. & B.C. Choudhury (2000). Conservation and Management of Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) in Orissa, India. Final Report. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, 70 pp.

Pattnaik, S.K., C.S. Kar & S.K. Kar (2001). A Quarter Century of Sea Turtle Conservation in Orissa. Wildlife Wing, Forest Department, Government of Orissa, Bhubaneshwar, 34pp.

Pinou, T., K.J. Pacete, A.P. Niz, L. Gall & E. Lazo-Wasem (2009). Lunar illumination and sea turtle nesting. Herpetological Review 40: 409–410.

Plotkin, P.T. (1994). Migratory and reproductive behavior of the Olive Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys olivacea (Eschscholtz, 1829) in the eastern Pacific Ocean. PhD Thesis. Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas.

Plotkin, T., R.A. Byles, D.C. Rostal & D.W. Owens (1995). Independent versus socially facilitated oceanic migrations of the Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea. Marine Biology 122: 137–143.

Plotkin, P.T., D.C. Rostal, R.A. Byles & D.W. Owens (1997). Reproductive and developmental synchrony in female Lepidochelys olivacea. Journal of Herpetology 31(1): 17–22.

Pritchard, P.C. (1997). Evolution, phylogeny, and current status, pp. 1–28. In: Lutz, P.L. & J.A. Musick (eds.). The Biology of Sea Turtles. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

Pritchard, P.C. & J.A. Mortimer (1999). Taxonomy, external morphology, and species identification, pp. 21–38. In: K. Eckert, K. Bjorndal, F. Abreu-Grobois & M. Donnelly (eds.). Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ. No. 4, Washington, D.C.

Rusli, M.U., D.T. Booth & J. Joseph (2016). Synchronous activity lowers the energetic cost of nest escape for sea turtle hatchlings. Journal of Experimental Biology 219: 1505–1513.

Salmon M., J. Wyneken, E. Fritz & M. Lucas (1992). Sea finding by hatchling sea turtles: Role of Brightness, Silhouette and beach slope as orientation cues. Behaviour 122: 56–77.

Salmon, M. & B. Witherington (1995). Artificial lighting and seafinding by loggerhead hatchlings: evidence for lunar modulation. Copeia 4: 931–938.

Salmon, M. & M. Reising (2014). Emergence Rhythms of Hatchling Marine Turtles: Is a Time Sense Involved?. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 13(2): 282–285.

Shaver, D.J. & T. Wibbels (2007). Head-starting the Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle, pp. 297–323. In: Plotkin, P.T. (ed.). Biology and Conservation of Ridley Sea Turtles. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

Silas, E.G., M. Rajagopalan, S.S. Dan & A.B. Fernando (1985). On the second mass nesting of Olive Ridley Turtles Lepidochelys olivacea at Gahirmatha, Orissa during 1984. Proceedings of the Symposium on Endangered marine animals and marine parks 1: 234–241.

Spencer R.J., M.B. Thompson & P.B. Banks (2001). Hatch or wait? A dilemma in reptilian incubation. Oikos 93: 401–406.

Tripathy, B. (2008). An assessment of solitary and arribada nesting of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) at the Rushikulya rookery of Orissa, India. Asiatic Herpetological Research 11: 134–140.

Tripathy, B., R.S. Kumar, B.C. Choudhury, K. Sivakumar & A.K. Nayak (2008). Compilation of Research Information on Biological and Behavioural Aspects of Olive Ridley Turtles along the Orissa Coast of India – A Bibliographical Review for Identifying Gap Areas of Research. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, 8pp.

Tuxbury, S.M. & M. Salmon (2005). Competitive interactions between artificial lighting and natural cues during sea finding by hatchling marine turtles. Biological Conservation 121: 311–316.

Valverde, R.A., S.E. Cornelius & C.L. Mo (1998). Decline of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) nesting assemblage at Nancite Beach, Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 3(1): 58–63.

Valverde, R.A., C.M. Orrego, M.T. Tordoir, F.M. Gómez, D.S. Solís, R.A. Hernández, G.B. Gómez, L.S. Brenes, J.P. Baltodano, L.G. Fonseca & J.R. Spotila (2012). Olive Ridley mass nesting ecology and egg harvest at Ostional Beach, Costa Rica. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 11(1): 1–11.

Van Buskirk, J. & L.B. Crowder (1994). Life-history variation in marine turtles. Copeia 1: 66–81.

Witherington, B.E., K.A. Bjorndal & C.M. McCabe (1990). Temporal pattern of nocturnal emergence of loggerhead turtle hatchlings from natural nests. Copeia 4: 1165–1168.

Witt, D.W. (2013). Tidal and lunar correlates on sea turtle emergence patterns in Ada Foah, Ghana. MSc Thesis. The Faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, USA, 36pp.