Very little is known about the status of leatherback populations from Indian waters, barring work by ANET on Great Nicobar Island in the early 2000s, and the surveys conducted by the CES, Dakshin and ANET on Little Andaman Island. In collaboration with the Andaman Nicobar Environment Team (ANET), the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science, and Andaman and Nicobar Forest Department, Dakshin has developed a long-term monitoring and conservation programme for sea turtles of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in particular for leatherback turtles. The programme also has a strong focus on developing networks for conservation in the region and a long-term education and outreach programme to sensitise government authorities and local communities to the conservation of sea turtles and their habitats.
In 2008, a long-term monitoring programme was initiated on Little Andaman Island. Since then, two of the most important nesting beaches in the Andaman group of islands – namely, West Bay and South Bay beaches on Little Andaman Island – have been monitored annually, roughly between November and March.
The leatherback monitoring programme at South and West Bay reveals a steady increase in leatherback nesting. Since the initiation of the project, over 150 individuals have been tagged with PIT tags and flipper tags. Telemetry studies conducted between 2010 to 2014 on ten individuals indicate that leatherback turtles from Little Andaman traverse much of the Indian Ocean during their foraging migrations, ranging as far east as Western Australia, and as far west as Mozambique and Madagascar.
Our recent surveys in 2016 and 2019 of the Nicobar group of Islands reveal that all the important nesting beaches have formed again after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami and are still favorable for leatherback nesting. The beaches of Great and Little Nicobar Island continue to have the highest leatherback nesting in the region.
While this population was once considered to be declining, we have observed a stable trend in the nest numbers, with some annual variation. With over 1000 nests per season, this is the most significant nesting population in the northeast Indian Ocean.
- Swaminathan, A., N. Namboothri and K. Shanker. 2019. Tracking leatherback turtles from Little Andaman Island. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 29: 8-10.
- Swaminathan, A., S. Thesorow, S. Watha, M. Manoharakrishnan, N. Namboothri and M. Chandi. 2017. Current status and distribution of threatened leatherback turtles and their nesting beaches in the Nicobar group of islands. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 25:
- Swaminathan, A., N. Namboothri and K. Shanker. 2017. The Indian Ocean is my swimming pool: Leatherback turtles of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In Proceedings of the International Sea Turtle Symposium 2017, Las Vegas.
- Namboothri, N., A. Swaminathan and K. Shanker. 2012. Post- nesting migratory routes of leatherback turtles from Little Andaman Island. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 16: 21-23.
- Swaminathan, A., N. Namboothri and K. Shanker. 2011. Post-tsunami status of leatherback turtle nesting at Little Andaman Island. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 14: 5-10.
|National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of Commerce||2008-2009|
|Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore||2009-2010|
|Indian Space Research Organisation/Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore Space Technology Cell||2010-2013|
|Marine Turtle Conservation Fund, US Fish and Wildlife Service||2012-2020|
|International Seafood Sustainability Foundation||2011-2020|
|The Pollination Project||2019-2020|