Turtles on Morro Ayuta beach in Oaxaca. Turtles on Morro Ayuta beach in Oaxaca.

Oaxaca turtle arrivals up 20% over last year

Two beaches recorded a record 2 million turtles

The recovery of olive ridley sea turtles over the last decade appears to be well under way as up to 22% more turtles arrived on two beaches in Oaxaca to lay their eggs this season.

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According to the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (Conanp), almost two million tortugas golfinas, as olive ridleys are known in Mexico, came ashore at Morro Ayuta and Escobilla, a record figure for a sea turtle species that just 13 years ago was considered to be at a critical point for survival.

At Morro Ayuta beach, over one million olive ridleys deposited their eggs, up 22% compared to last year’s figures, when slightly more than 881,000 chelonians visited the Oaxaca beach.

Likewise, in the turtle sanctuary at Escobilla beach, also in Oaxaca state, the 877,000 turtles that arrived this year represent a 20% increase over the 2016 figure of 735,000.

Both beaches are considered by specialists as the most important areas in the world for the reproduction of the golfinas.

Turtle protection policies were enforced starting in 2004 after the International Sea Turtle Society (ISTS) alerted the Mexican government that depredation posed a serious threat to the species.

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Poachers continue to steal eggs from the nests but efforts by Conanp, police, the military and local communities have curbed the practice, if the increased numbers are anything to go by. Even drones have been employed to conduct surveillance of beaches and stop the thefts.

Six of the seven living species of sea turtles come ashore on Mexican beaches to deposit their eggs. The olive ridleys have been protected by a fishing ban since 1990, and all six species have been considered endangered since 2010 by the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat).

Source: La Crónica de Hoy (sp)

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