Jellyfish trade threatens Olive Ridleys on Orissa Coast

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Bhubaneswar, Dec 04 (UNI) A sudden increase in demand for Jelly fish by the fish merchants has threatened the endangered Olive Ridleys sea turtle, sighted on the Orissa coastline in lakhs every year for mass nesting.

The Olive Ridley sea turtles are sighted swimming off the coastal waters of Gahirmatha, Devi and Rushikulya river mouths. These endangered visitors have to grapple with various threats to their lives and habitat during their annual sojourn.

However, this year, rampant jellyfish trade, a new threat, apart from the turtles being killed by illegal trawling, has emerged which could lead to an irreversible impact on the turtles, Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO) secretary Biswajit Mohanty said.

He said Olive Ridleys are attracted to the Orissa coast during the early winter months, since abundant supplies of jellyfish are available here.

The Olive Ridleys consume jellyfish as their main food, besides fish, shrimps and crabs. These are marine invertebrates which float on the sea and are found in most of the coastal waters of Orissa, Mr Mohanty said.

The increased demand from China for the Rhopilema species of jellyfish has suddenly led to the boom in jellyfish trade in Orissa.

Earlier, fishermen in the state used to discard the jellyfish as unwanted catch whenever they fished in the seas.

But the fishermen in the state were now busy netting the jellyfish which were being sold at the rate of Rs two per piece at fishing bases all along the Orissa coast.

The WSO Secretary said every day truckloads of catch were being consigned to Chennai for onward export to China since the people of our country do not eat them.

He said no legal action could be taken to prevent the catch of jelly fish as they were not a protected species.

Mr Mohanty, however, warned that unless such rampant exploitation was checked, the Olive Ridleys would be deprived of their main food.

He said if the turtles did not find sufficient food on the Orissa coast, they might abandon the site forever.

He demanded that the Centre should impose a ban on jellyfish export to check its trade and help conserve the endangered Olive Ridleys.

UNI

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