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Sea Tortoises Keep on Dying on Guerrero’s Coast

By: Staff | Real Acapulco News - 08 November, 2010

(Acapulco, AN 8 November) In recent weeks, over 135 large sea tortoises have washed up on shore, dead or dying. They are of the endangered species “golfina,” “black,” and “Carey.” The main cause is that local fishing boats refuse to abandon fishing techniques declared illegal for reasons of ecological protection. They use nets that entrap the tortoises, as well as dolphins, which then are denied oxygen, and drown. The report, filed by Costa Salvaje A.C., a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental protection, cites data gathered by government agencies, notably PROPEG, which is the State of Guerrero’s entity for the enforcement of ecological protection regulations. In surveys of coastal waters the watchdog group has found many illegal fishing devices located one or two miles away from the beaches. Government officials also found as many as 80 drowned tortoises, just along the Costa Chica, south and east of Acapulco. Another 55 were located in beaches near Acapulco and Zihuatanejo.

This time of year is especially dangerous for the rare species, as the adult females need to come ashore to lay eggs, and the hatchlings need to survive long enough to make it back into the deeper waters. According to PROPEG, 400 Laud tortoises came to Guerrero’s coast in 2009 to lay eggs. This year that number has dropped to 135.

A secondary threat to the tortoise population is the increased incidence of a peculiar species of jellyfish, known as “Salpa Máxima.” It emits a chemical that can paralyze a tortoise, resulting in the animal’s death by drowning. Sea Tortoises are also endangered because poachers steal their eggs in the mistaken and mythical belief that they provide enhanced sexual prowess.

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