Olive Ridley Project

Country Maldives
Started 2010

The Olive Ridley Project was set up by marine biologists working in the Maldives concerned with the number of Olive Ridley turtles found entangled in ghost nets around the country.From 2010 to the present day 57 Olive Ridley sea turtles have been found by our team in the Maldives with injuries caused by anthropogenic activities. Common mutilations induced by ghost nets in the Indian Ocean include superficial cuts, severed limbs, and positive buoyancy. Entanglements often lead to deaths or injuries so severe that the rehabilitated turtles are unlikely to reproduce or survive if released back into wild. 51 of these Olive Ridleys were found in fishing nets. 24 turtles had injuries so severe that they were taken to rehabilitation centres by our team and were successfully released after their recovery. 5 of these turtles were released with satellite tags to assess our rehabilitation efforts. The Maldives is made up of 26 atolls and 1,196 islands, 200 of which are inhabited. The turtles found are most likely just the tip of the iceberg as the data collected is only from 24 islands in the Maldives. A vast number are likely to evade land or wash up on uninhabited islands. Networking with different stakeholders will be key in reducing the current lack of data from other Atolls. A Facebook group was set up to find a long term solution for ghost net entanglement rather than just rehabilitating rescued individuals and waiting for more unfortunate turtles to suffer the same fate. A net identification protocol was developed to extract as much information as possible from the samples collected and can be found on the Facebook page or website). The main objective is to find the main sources of nets and formulate an action plan that reduces and eventually prevents marine animals becoming entangled in nets at such a high frequency. Locals, marine biologists and scientists operating in different countries have shown their support and are actively aiding our cause by identifying nets and sharing data. We are looking to collaborate with other interested individuals in the Indian Ocean region in order to protect this vulnerable species.