Around 350 olive ridley sea turtles were found dead along the coast of Oaxaca after being trapped in a trammel net allegedly set by deep-sea fisheries that are yet to be identified.
The finding of these specimens from the endangered olive ridley species happened yesterday morning, three miles outside the reef of Santa María Colotepec, a municipality in the coastal region of Oaxaca.
Both fishermen and local authorities of San Pedro Mixtepec, along with members of the Federal Attorney’s Office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) spent eight hours working on the recovery of the dead sea turtles’ bodies to bury them at a local beach.
In order to drag the turtles to land, the trammel net had to be cut down into five parts. The operation was conducted under the close supervision of the Federal Police (PF) and the Ministry of the Navy (SEMAR).
The chelonians were already decomposing, and according to PROFECA inspectors, they had died in high seas around 15 days before the finding, but the sea current had dragged them towards the shore, which made them easier to spot.
In face of the specimens’ death, PROFEPA opened an investigation for the identification of those responsible, though at the time, they haven’t been able to trace the trammel net or confirm whether or not it belonged to a foreign tuna boat, as was originally reported in the preliminary investigation.
The Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Energy and Development (SEMAEDESO) of the state of Oaxaca informed that they were collaborating in the investigation along with PROFEPA and the Network for Beached Animals to determine the causes of the turtles’ entrapment and punish those responsible.
The olive ridley turtles’ nesting season began in Oaxaca during the month of July. These turtles usually arrive in large numbers to a sanctuary in the beaches of Morro Ayuta and La Escobilla, along the coast of Oaxaca, which is why the species shows an increased presence during this time.
According to the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP), during the 2017-2018 season, around 2 million specimens of the olive ridley species arrived at each of the beaches.