Eighty sea turtles wash up dead on the coast of Guatemala

An assortment of marine animals and birds reside along the black volcanic sand beaches of Guatemala’s Pacific coast, but lately both residents and visitors on the southeast beaches of the country have observed a tragic event – the stranding of dead sea turtles.

Eighty dead sea turtles have been recorded since the first week of July on the beaches of La Barrona, Las Lisas, Chapeton and Hawaii according to a statement released by the Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association (ARCAS), a Guatemalan non-profit organization formed by citizens in 1989.

According to the statement, nearby residents are worried because sea turtles are a valuable resource. Not only do the sea turtles draw tourists to the coast, but, despite their endangered status, the eggs are also a source of income.

In addition to egg harvesting, one of the main threats to sea turtles on the Pacific coast of Guatemala is fisheries by-catch. The statement notes that the appearance of dead turtles on the beach coincides with the presence of shrimp trawlers in waters off these beaches.

Although Guatemalan trawlers are required to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs), enforcement is difficult and fines are very light.

Leading marine turtle conservationists and researchers presented a petition to the government of Guatemala expressing their concern. According to the statement, the petition requests that the government take action to counter the mortality of sea turtles, including the monitoring of shrimp trawlers to establish the impact on marine turtle populations.

Source | The Guardian

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