KENDRAPARA: In renewed efforts to track the migratory pattern of Olive Ridley turtles, scientists of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) have firmed up plans to fit satellite transmitters or platform transmitter terminals (PTT) on at least 30 turtles this year.
Senior scientist of Marine Programme of WII, Dehradun, Dr Shiva Kumar Kuppuswamy said in April 2001, the Forest department and WII along with biologist Jack Frazier of Smithsonian Institution, had fitted PTTs on four turtles at Devi beach. “The turtles circled the waters and only one of them migrated towards Sri Lanka,” he said.
WII had again fitted PTTs on 30 turtles in 2017 and many of them were seen moving towards Sri Lanka. However, the PTTs stopped transmitting within a year, either due to technical issues or death of turtles in trawler-related mishaps.
During the mass nesting of turtles, WII will fit the transmitters on 10 turtles at Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Bhitarkanika National Park. Similarly, 10 PTTs will be fitted on turtles at Rushikulya beach and as many at Devi beach, said Dr Kuppuswamy.
The base of the transmitters and the anterior part of the carapace will be covered with epoxy. The PTTs have temperature sensors and surface time counters to indicate the time spent by the turtles on land. The batteries of the transmitters are designed to last a year if a turtle spends 30 per cent of its time on surface. The data received from the device will be analysed and mapped at WII.
Satellite transmitters send high frequency signals that are received by polar orbiting weather satellites. The transmissions are first decoded to identify the transmitter, as each has a unique code. The latitudes and longitudes can be plotted on a map and the migratory routes of the turtles traced, added the scientist.