Journey of a Leatherback Turtle: Andamans to Indonesia

A Leatherback fitted with a Sat transmitter
Naveen Namboothri
This the first telemetry study of leatherback turtles in South Asia region.

A Leatherback Turtle — the biggest, most endangered and the deepest swimmer among seven turtle species known worldwide — clocked more than 2,000km in 145 days. The turtle (tagged 103335) began her journey from the Little Andaman islands on the rim of the Indian Ocean in January and, on Saturday, was spotted near the Indonesian coast.

In 2008, a team from Bangalore’s Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore initiated a long-term monitoring programme on Little Andaman Island in collaboration with the Andaman and Nicobar Environment Team (ANET) and the Andaman and Nicobar Forest Department. The fourth year of the leatherback turtle monitoring camp at Little Andamans began this year on the 10th of November 2010 and lasted until the 6th of February 2011. Two camps were set up at South Bay and West Bay. Surveys from the previous years indicated that there were a higher number of nests laid in West Bay as compared to South Bay. The 2010-2011 nesting season resulted in 23 leatherback turtles tagged in West Bay and 5 in South Bay respectively. Three turtles were also tagged with satellite transmitters to the track post nesting migratory route. This is the first of such studies conducted in South Asia and more turtles are scheduled to be fitted with satellite transmitters in the coming season.

Leatherback nesting beaches in Great and Little Nicobar Island were washed away during the December 2004 tsunami. This nesting population, particularly the Nicobar population, is considered to be the largest in the southern Asian region. Recent surveys by Naveen Namboothri and Saw Agu indicate that the beaches are forming again, and that there is a fair amount of nesting at these beaches.

See Tracking Leatherback Turtle Migration for more information.

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