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Turtle eggs on a Oaxaca beach after last week's tropical storm. Turtle eggs on a Oaxaca beach.

More than 8 million turtle eggs lost on Oaxaca beaches after tropical storm

Over 80,000 nests were destroyed at two sanctuaries by Tropical Storm Narda

Environmental authorities have estimated that Tropical Storm Narda destroyed more than eight million turtle eggs in nests on beaches in Oaxaca.

The local delegation of the Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp) said that torrential rain, strong wind and large swells brought by Narda, which made landfall in the southern state last Saturday, damaged 44,000 nests at the Playa Escobilla turtle sanctuary, causing the loss of approximately 4.4 million eggs.

South of Escobilla, near the oil refinery city of Salina Cruz, just under four million eggs in almost 40,000 nests were destroyed at the Morro Ayuta sanctuary, Conanp said, bringing the total number of lost eggs to 8.39 million.

The figures, which assume an average of 100 eggs per nest, were calculated following censuses carried out at the two sanctuaries on September 30.

Conanp said the storm damaged 9.5% of all nests in which eggs were laid during the third mass arrival of turtles this nesting season, which began on August 21.

Millions of turtle eggs were lost on Oaxaca beaches.
Millions of turtle eggs were lost on Oaxaca beaches.

It also said that a wide range of debris, trash and vegetation washed up on both beaches after the passing of Narda, which caused widespread damage in Oaxaca and cut off access to 46 communities for days.

“After the battering . . . it will not be an easy task [to restore the beaches]. It will require the joint effort of the public, authorities of the three levels of government and non-governmental institutions and organizations,” Conanp said.

Clean-up efforts assisted by local youth and environmental authorities began on Tuesday.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the head of the turtle protection group Tortuga Verde criticized authorities for not implementing measures to protect the Escobilla sanctuary.

Rubén Sánchez said that neither the environmental protection agency Profepa nor the federal Secretariat of the Environment did anything to stop or limit the destruction of the nests.

Six of the world’s seven sea turtle species come ashore in Oaxaca to lay their eggs, most notably the olive ridley sea turtle. The Escobilla and Morro Ayuta beaches are among the world’s most important turtle nesting sites.

Turtle eggs have been destroyed during past weather events including tropical storms and hurricanes, and they are also sold  in Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, despite a federal ban on their consumption.

Would-be turtle hatchlings were not the only wildlife affected by Narda in Oaxaca: heavy rain flooded crocodile habitats in some parts of the state, causing the reptiles to flee their usual habitat for populated areas, including the towns of Pinotepa Nacional and Huazolotitlan.

Source: Reforma (sp), El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp) 

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