The turtles are beginning to arrive on the southern Pacific coast of Mexico, and so are the egg thieves.
The third major arrival of marine turtles appeared Monday on the beaches of Morro Ayuta on the coast of Oaxaca, almost midway between the tourist destination of Huatulco and the refinery town of Salina Cruz.
But since the beginning of this season’s arrivals, known as arribadas, more than 10,000 stolen turtle eggs have been seized by authorities.
By tomorrow, it is expected that 20,000 turtles will have arrived in Morro Ayuta to deposit as many as 100 eggs each in nests in the sand. That’s 2 million eggs, and they’re easy picking for anyone who wants to make a few pesos.
Easing picking, that is, if you can get past police and army patrols that are common on Oaxaca beaches at this time of year, part of a national effort to safeguard the protected sea turtles.
Some thieves are able to get past the patrols. There are, after all, thousands of kilometers of beaches. But routine inspections of buses have been known to turn up sacks of turtle eggs in the cargo bays, which is what happened last week in Guelaguichi, just west of Salina Cruz.
State police arrested a 43-year-old woman to whom the sacks belonged. They contained some 2,000 eggs.