The satellite tags on the two turtles which have been providing crucial information to the scientists about the reptiles for over seven months have gone unresponsive one after the other. The satellite tags enabled the scientists to document the remarkable journey of the two turtles from the Konkan coast in Maharashtra. The satellite tag on turtle Guha whose journey was tracked from Konkan to Malabar coast was the first device to stop transmission.

Two days later, the satellite tag of turtle Bageshri which had travelled from Maharashtra to the Bay of Bengal through Sri Lankan waters ceased sending signals in September 2023. The scientists now have crucial information about the two female olive ridley turtles gathered from 225 days of tracking.

Dr R Suresh Kumar scientist at the department of endangered species management from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) along with his team have been tracking the interesting journey of both the turtles since the time the turtles were tagged and released in February 2023.

Dr Kumar said, “In the third week of September, during its highly successful lunar mission Chandrayaan 3 became unresponsive and coincidently around the same time the tags on turtles Bageshri and Guha went silent one after another. The performance of the tag is currently being checked to find the possible reason for its non-transmission. Guha and Bageshri were tracked for a record time of 225 days.”

The device on turtle Guha stopped transmitting on September 21 while that of Bageshri stopped transmitting on September 23. Earlier, on July 23, the transmission from the satellite tag of Guha had become temporarily unresponsive due to technical reasons. The last location of the Bageshri was off the Puducherry coast and Guha was off Manguluru coast.

The Maharashtra coast witnesses the sporadic nesting of olive ridley sea turtles. Till now olive ridley sea turtles have been tagged only on the East coast of India. This is the first satellite tagging project of olive ridley sea turtles on the western coast of India.

On the night of February 21, the WII team, Mangrove Foundation, and the Maharashtra Forest Department’s Ratnagiri Division patrolled the Guhagar beach, and two female olive ridley turtles that had come to nest on the beach, were restrained after they had nested. On February 23, the turtles were returned to the sea in the morning after the WII team had fitted them with satellite transmitters. The female turtles were given the names Bageshri and Guha.

A research project ‘Tracking the migratory movements of olive ridley sea turtles off the coast of Maharashtra’ was commissioned by the Mangrove Foundation, Maharashtra Forest Department to the WII. This study will help in understanding the movement pattern of olive ridley sea turtles off the coast of Western India.

The findings of this project will help in understanding the population of olive ridley sea turtles on the western coast of India, their migration pattern, foraging ground and their behaviour. The Mangrove Foundation and Mangrove Cell, Forest Department is planning to take up more such research initiatives to strengthen the turtle conservation of Maharashtra.

No of days turtles were tracked

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