A baby sea turtle ready to go to sea. A baby sea turtle ready to go to sea.

The army fights narcos on one hand — and saves turtles on the other

In six months, 11,000 turtle eggs put in safekeeping and 8,600 babies released into the sea

Fighting against the extinction of the world’s remaining sea turtles on the Pacific coast has become a priority for the Mexican army — right along with fighting narcos and providing security.

In the last six months, the army safeguarded 11,000 turtle eggs and released 8,600 sea turtles into the sea in the state of Guerrero, where sea turtle eggs are often prized as a delicacy and eaten along with the endangered animal’s flesh.

Major Roberto Godoy Gómez, the instructions and operations chief for a sea turtle conservation campaign in Pie de la Cuesta, explained that the army’s mission is twofold: to maintain a physical presence on the state’s shores to rescue turtles and to educate a generation of young people to have greater respect for the environment.

“We are trying to create a culture [of environmental consciousness] in such a way as to leave conservation strategies deeply imprinted in society. Before, we had a very high incidence of turtle egg pillaging, but now it is down to almost nothing; we have significantly decreased the threat to the turtles.”

The major said the army makes visits to elementary, secondary and high schools in the state’s coastal regions and invites students to witness the releasing of baby turtles into the sea.

Major Godoy, responsible for saving turtles.
Major Godoy, responsible for saving turtles.

Typical programs include information about the sea turtles’ life cycle and their importance in the environment to generate environmental consciousness from an early age so that students will choose to willingly assist in conservation efforts rather than partake in what has long been seen in the region as a tasty snack.

“The truth is that there is much more to be gained from protecting them than eating them, because neither their eggs nor their flesh is of great benefit to us.”

Source: Milenio (sp)

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