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Explained: National Marine Turtle Action Plan

Tulika Tandon

Why in News?

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has released the Marine MegaFauna Stranding Guidelines and National Marine Turtle Action Plan recently. 

Speaking at the virtual launch event the Union Environment Minister said, "both floral and faunal diversity including the marine biodiversity is the beauty of India and we need to conserve it with best possible action and interventions."

Significance of National Marine Turtle Action Plan 

  1. India is rich in Marine Biodiversity spread across a vast coastline of 7500 kilometres. 
  2. Many people depend on these resources that range from maritime trade and transport, food, mineral resources, cultural traditions, spiritual values and inspiration that draws tourists from around the world.
  3. It was despite the various good maritime habitats that the marine megafauna species and marine turtles face a wide variety of challenges including stranding and entanglement. 
  4. The management of these challenging situations needs coordination, action and people’s participation. This would help in the long-term conservation of marine species and their habitats.

 National Marine Turtle Action Plan: Latest changes

As per the latest documents, the Act contains ways to 

  1. i) promote inter-sectoral action for conservation 
  2. ii) improve coordination between various bodies involved such as the government, civil society and all relevant stakeholders on generating response to cases of stranding, entanglement, injury or mortality of marine mammals and also conservation of marine turtles.

As per the statement released by the Ministry through PIB, the documents "highlight actions to be taken for handling stranded animals on shore, stranded or entangled animals in the sea or on a boat, management actions for improved coordination, reducing threats to marine species and their habitats, rehabilitation of degraded habitats, enhancing people’s participation, advance scientific research and exchange of information on marine mammals and marine turtles and their habitats."

Species of Sea Turtles found in India

  1. Olive Ridley Turtle
  2. Green Turtle 
  3. Loggerhead Turtle 
  4. Hawksbill Turtle
  5. Leatherback Turtle

Role of Turtles explained:

  1. Sea turtles have a greater role in the food web. They consume an assortment of prey which includes puffer fish, crustaceans, sponges, tunicates, sea grasses and algae.
  2. They help in transportation of nutrients from the highly productive marine habitats like sea grass beds to energy poor habitats like those of sandy beaches.
  3. The Green turtles feed on seagrass beds and crop grass to provide a nursery for numerous fishes and shellfish.
  4. The leatherback turtles keep the jellyfishes on track and control.
  5. The Hawksbill feeds on sponges in the reef ecosystem and opens up crevices for other marine lives

What is the difference between a turtle and tortoise

Tortoises have a rounded and domed shell which is thinner and more water dynamic in turtles. The shells of the turtles are more streamlined to aid them in swimming. One major difference is that the tortoises spend most of their time on land whereas the turtles spend more time in water. 

Also Read| What is Biodiversity? Know the difference between In Situ and Ex Situ conservation


Which are the smallest sea turtles in India?

Olive Ridley Turtles are the smallest species of India

Where can sea turtles be found in India?

Sea turtles are found all along the coast of India. They can be seen in Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

How long do sea turtles live?

Sea turtles live a long time, almost up to 50 years or more and have similar lifespans to humans.

Which turtles are found in India?

The sea turtles found in India are Olive Ridley Turtle, Green Turtle , Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Leatherback Turtle

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