Survey and Assessment of the Status, Issues & Threats to Marine Turtles Along the Kerala Coast
Pp. 195-202 (8)
Renjan Mathew Varghese
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.
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.
WWF-India, Kerala State Office, Vanchiyoor P.O, Thiruvananthapuram-695 035, Kerala, India.