Named after H.N. Ridley FRS who first reported the sighting of Olive Ridleys in Brazil in 1887 and their overall olive green colour, Olive Ridleys are the smallest of the marine turtle species in the world. They grow to an average of 70 cms long and adults weigh approximately 45 kgs. The carapace is tear drop shaped.They are omnivorous, feeding on crustaceans and molluscs. They can dive to great depths and may be bottom feeders. They are highly migratory, covering thousands of kilometers between foraging and nesting grounds.The heart-shaped carapace is characterized by four pairs of pore-bearing inframarginal scutes on the bridge, two pairs of prefrontal’s, up to nine lateral scutes per side. Olive ridleys are unique in that they can have a variable and asymmetrical lateral scute count ranging from five to nine plates on each side, with six to eight being most commonly observed .
The olive ridley sea turtle nests at several sites in the western Indian Ocean, Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. The single most important breeding area for olive ridleys in the Indian Ocean along the Bay of Bengal is Odisha. The Rushikulya beach on Chilika in the Ganjam district of Odisha is not a very famous tourist destination. You might not find its mention in too many guide books. Unless you are seriously clued into the conservation scene, chances are that you have never heard its name.
The beach becomes famous for less than a week every year when olive ridley turtles – one of the smallest marine turtles – come to lay eggs here in millions. And obviously once again (within a space of 40-45 days) when millions of small hatchlings come out of their shells and walk some 50 meters or so to the waters. This unique natural phenomenon happens in the wee hours of the morning.