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The dead sea turtles bore signs of injuries from fishing nets. The dead sea turtles bore signs of injuries from fishing nets.

20 dead turtles were victims of illegal fishing nets

Local leaders and conservationists blamed illegal gillnetting for the turtles' deaths

The Fund for the Protection of Marine Resources (Fonmar) is asking the community of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, for their support after 20 sea turtles were found dead on local beaches.

The official complaint to Fonmar came from the local organization Grupo Tortuguero de Todos Santos A.C., a group dedicated to the protection of local sea turtles and the beaches that serve as their nesting grounds each year. Members of the group found 20 dead sea turtles on the beach at the end of July that had apparently been caught in fishermen’s nets and were unable to free themselves.

Worldwide, hundreds of sea turtles are killed by ocean trash each year: some are caught in abandoned fishing gear, tangled in the plastic rings of six-packs, or swallow plastic bags and other debris, according to a worldwide survey carried out by the University of Exeter.

The type of gillnet the turtles were tangled in is illegal in this part of Baja California Sur, but authorities have already found three of them in the water in the past three months according to the local representative of the community of El Cardonal, Belén Meza Sandez. Meza said the nets are placed in the water in the evenings and collected again in the morning by fishermen that live far from the community.

The summer season is especially crucial for sea turtles in the area, as they return en masse each year to lay their eggs on the beaches of their own birth. In one week alone, 100 olive ridley sea turtle nests were found in the Cabo del Este region, according to Enedino Castillo García, the president of Grupo Tortuguero.

Martín Inzunza Tamayo, the head of Fonmar, said that the agency would be working with the local community to preserve the turtles and protect the area but gave no specific details as to their plans.

With reports from BCS Noticias and El Sudcaliforniano

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