Biodiversity Conservation - Challenges for the Future

Survey and Assessment of the Status, Issues & Threats to Marine Turtles Along the Kerala Coast

Author(s): Renjan Mathew Varghese

Pp: 195-202 (8)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681080215115010021

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Mainly seven species of turtles are reported across the world, out of which five are found in India, and four - Olive Ridley (most common), Green Turtle, Leatherback and Hawksbill have been sighted from the 9 coastal districts of Kerala. This study identifies the major beaches along the Kerala coast where turtles have been sighted, their nesting areas, and threats to their survival and current efforts taken to conserve them. Field surveys, interacting with the coastal people and liaising with local conservation groups were conducted. The coastal belt of Kasargod has the largest density of marine turtles followed by Kozhikode and Thrissur. The year 2010 saw a 70% surge in turtle landings in these regions over the previous year due to the continual efforts of local conservation groups – Naithal. Many turtles trapped in fishing nets die and sometimes the fishermen kill the live ones for meat or as revenge for destroying the nets. Beach erosion and coastal afforestation and burgeoning coastal development in the form of ports, sea walls, fishing harbours and tourism are major threats to turtle habitats and nesting sites. The study recommends awareness campaigns for turtle conservation, banning illegal sale of meat and eggs, initiating Coastal Eco Development Committees, diligent afforestation, shoreline protection using geo-textiling, curbing contamination of coastal area by waste dumping and industrial drains and co-ordination between the concerned authorities for better vigilance of beach sand mining, illegal trawling, etc.

Keywords: Beach erosion, Casuarina plantations, coastal afforestation, coastal biodiversity, coastal development, coastal pollution, conservation groups, Green turtle, habitat loss, Hawksbill, illegal market, Kerala beaches, Leatherback, marine turtles, Olive Ridley, polluting activities, sand mining, trawl nets, turtle conservation, turtle meat.

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