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The Olive Ridley Project was initiated in response to large numbers of olive ridleys turtles(Lepidochelys olivacea ) found entangled in fishing nets in the Maldives. This species of seaturtle is rarely observed in the Maldives; however, since 2011 marine biologists, dive mastersand boat captains have recorded 47 olive ridleys entangled in fishing nets. The recorded entanglements have occurred through chance encounters suggesting the data only reflects a small proportion of the actual number of ghost net entrapments of olive ridleys in this region. Since the inception of the Olive Ridley Project in July 2013 a further 40 olive ridleys have been found. Often turtles spend extended periods of time entangled in nets and their condition quickly deteriorates. Dehydration, amputations and deep lacerations are some of the injuries sustained. The risk of predation by opportunistic predators increases when entangled and defenceless and this brings with it further trauma to the turtles. Once found, their condition can be so severe that often they do not survive. Dedicated teams in the Maldives, Sri Lanka and India are working towards rehabilitating injured turtles, but the problem continues.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
Awareness is a large part of what we do and by reaching out to a large audience we are able to raise our profile, and connect with similar people/organisations working out in the field. Awareness can be increased through blogs, social media posts or website features specifically focusing on how people can get involved and contribute to the Olive Ridley Project. We also try to attend symposiums and workshops to spread our message – if you are interested in contributing please get in touch. We welcome anybody with an interest.
Secondly, scientific data can help us understand the true threat ghost nets pose in the Indian Ocean; currently data on ghost nets in this part of the world is insufficient and, in response,we have created a database collecting information on any ghost net found either on beaches or at sea. We take basic parameters such as webbing size, twine dimensions, twist direction,material and knot construction. A detailed explanation of this method of data collection can bef ound on our website or Facebook group. We are happy to collect information from anybody that may come across ghost nets whilst walking beaches or out diving in the Indian Ocean.This information adds to our database to understand how many nets are out there, and where they may be coming from. We also welcome contributions from NGOs, organisations or individuals working closely with artisanal and commercial fisheries., Information on incidental catches, target species and number of lost nets plays an import part in understanding ghost nets in the Indian Ocean. The amount of money that is wasted by communities to replace broken nets can also contribute towards effective alternatives and sustainable fishing practices.