Lepidochelys olivacea   (Eschscholtz,  1829) (Turtle)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Reptilia

Image copyrights: seaturtle.org

Size: Carapace length (straight-line distance) maximum to 76 cm; common to 70 cm.

Weight: maximum to 52 kg; common to 45 kg.

Color: The adult are olive brown on the carapace with yellow plastron.

Carapace semicircular in outline, depressed, its width about 90% of the length. Head small (about 22% of carapace length) with 2 pairs of prefrontal scutes and a horny beak which may be finely serrated. Usually more than 5 pairs (sometimes even 7) of lateral scutes on carapace, anterior pair touching the precentral scute; 4 pairs of inframarginal scutes, each perforated by a pore toward its hind margin; adults with only 1 visible claw on each flipper.

Eggs: white, spherical, about 3.9 cm in diameter and 33 g in weight.

Hatchlings: length of carapace about 4 cm; shell with 3 longitudinal ridges above and 2 below; scutes slightly imbricated. Both sides of the body are dark greyish to black; some individuals with yellow margins to the shell.

Perennial breeder, breeding peaks occur influenced by climatic conditions. Fertilized females come to the shore to crawl on shore and dig a new hole. It then smoothens the sand by turning its body. An interesting habit of this species is to design its nest with sand dune creeper Ipomoea biloba. It is nocturnal nester and lives a trail imprint on sand as wide as 77-78 cm. The clutch size varies from 40-125. The incubation period varies between 54-56 days after which the hatchlings emerge from sand.

This turtle is known for its enormous nesting aggregation in North Eastern India. This species despite its localized nesting is the most numerous of the species of the sea turtles in the world. They are captured where large scale nesting aggregate called arribadas are witnessed.

Synonym (s)
Chelonia olivacea Eschscholtz, 1829
Lepidochelys olivacea Fitzinger, 1843

Common Name (s)
• Olive Ridley Turtle (English)
• Olive Ridely (English)
• Pacific Ridley Turtle (English)
• Aamai
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Exploited for eggs, flesh and leather. Also used in fisheries.)

Habitat:  Reef Associated, Coastal
IUCN Status:  Vulnerable


• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Nicobar Island (Lat: 7.24) (Long: 93.74) INDIA
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh (Lat: 22.6) (Long: 69.5) INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Middle Andaman (Lat: 12.5) (Long: 92.83) INDIA
• West Bengal, Sundarbans Coast INDIA
• Orissa, Gahirmatha beach INDIA
• West Bengal, Digha Coast (Lat: 21.61) (Long: 87.53) INDIA
• Orissa, Gahirmatha INDIA
• West Bengal, Hugli Matla Estuary (Lat: 22.21) (Long: 88.08) INDIA
• West Bengal, Hugli Matla Estuary INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Lakshadweep INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands INDIA
• Orissa, Bhittarkanika Mangroves INDIA
• Palk Bay INDIA
• Kerala, Vizhinjam (Lat: 8.36) (Long: 76.98) INDIA (Record: 1994–2002)
• Lakshadweep Islands INDIA (Record: 1977-1979)
• Kerala, Vizhinjam (Lat: 8.37) (Long: 76.95) INDIA

Literature Source(s)
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  • (1994) The red data book on Indian animals Vertebrata part 1 ZSI, Kolkata 1-534 Available at - NCL, Pune
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  • Hussain, SM Brief report on biodiversity in the coastal areas of Pakistan p 113
  • Hasbun, CR; Lawrence, AJ; Samour, JH and AlGhais, SM (2000) Preliminary observation on the biology of green turtles, Chelonia mydas, from the United Arab Emirates Aquatic conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 10 311-322 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Venkataraman, K and Milton, MCJ (2003) Marine turtles of India ZSI, Calcutta 87 pp
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  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at - http://www.marinespecies.org
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  • Untawale, AG; Dhargalkar, VK and Deshmukhe, GV (2000) Prioritization of potential sites for marine biodiversity conservation in India Setting biodiversity conservation priorities for India: Summary of the findings and conclusions of the biodiversity conservation prioritization project World Wide Fund for Nature - India, New Delhi (India) Available at - http://drs.nio.org/drs/bitstream/2264/1614/2/Setting_Biodiversity_Conserv_Priorities_India_2000_1_104.pdf
  • Venkataraman, K and Wafar, M (2005) Coastal and marine biodiversity of India Indian Journal of Marine Sciences 34(1) 57-75 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at - http://tnenvis.nic.in/PDF/coastal%20data.pdf
  • Fischer, W and Bianchi, G (Eds.) (1984) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Western Indian Ocean (Fishing Area 51) FAO, Rome 5 Available at - http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/ad468e/ad468e00.HTM
  • Sealifebase Available at - http://www.sealifebase.org/
  • Chadha, S and Sekar, KC (1999) Bhitarkanika:myth and reality Nataraj publishers, Dehra Dun Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Dr. Kumaraguru, AK (2000) Studies on socioeconomics of Coral Reef resource users in the Gulf of Mannar coast, South India Centre for Marine and Coastal studies School of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, India Available at - http://planningcommission.nic.in/reports/sereport/ser/stdy_coral.pdf
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  • Krishnapillai, S (2005) Distribution and status of sea turtles along Trivandrum coast, south Kerala Proceedings of the National Seminar on Reef Ecosystem Remediation SDMRI Special Research Publication No.9 253-255 Available at - http://www.sdmri.org/reports/proceedings%202005%20-%20sdmri.pdf
  • George, KC; Thomas, PA; Appukuttan, KK and Gopakumar, G (1986) Ancillary living marine resources of Lakshadweep Marine Fisheries Information Service CMFRI, Cochin 68 46-50 Available at - http://eprints.cmfri.org.in/4386/1/Article_13.pdf
  • Bhaskar, S and Whitaker, R (1983) Sea turtle resources in the Andamans Mariculture potential of Andaman and Nicobar Islands-An indicative survey Bulletin of Central Marine Fisheries Institute CMFRI, Cochin 34 94-97 Available at - http://eprints.cmfri.org.in/809/1/Bulletin_No_34.pdf
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at - eprints.cmfri.org.in/3975/1/Special_Publication_No_12_Revised.pdf
  • Kannan, P; Rajagopalan, M (2007) Size composition and morphometry of incidentally captured sea turtles at Vizhinjam, South-west coast of India Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 104(3) 288-297 Available at - NIO, Goa
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Page last updated on:2012-11-05

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