According to news website Mexico News Daily, an environmental prosecutor with Profepa said: “you don’t need go any farther than the public markets of two Oaxaca towns if you wish to buy turtle eggs“.
The environmental protection agency’s Guillermo Haro Bélchez said the markets in Juchitán and Puerto Escondido have been identified as the principal centers for the illegal distribution of Olive Ridley, or golfina, turtle eggs, a protected species.
The turtle season is under way on the Oaxaca coast, where thousands arrive every year to deposit as many as 100 eggs each in nests on the sandy and secluded beaches. Half the eggs don’t hatch; from those that do, baby turtles will emerge within 45-70 days.
Upon doing so, they will scurry down the beach to the sea, running a gauntlet of predators and powerful surf; an estimated 2% survive to become adult turtles.
But their initial predator is human. The eggs are easy prey and 20 nests’ worth will fill a sack of 2,000 eggs, which will fetch between 600 and 1,000 pesos on the black market, according to Profepa.
“The looters arrive at night, with their sacks, and remove the eggs minutes after they are laid,” explained Haro Bélchez. “They in turn deliver them to distributors who take them to Juchitán or Puerto Escondido, which are the main distribution and sales points.”
Last weekend, a monitoring and surveillance plan was implemented in conjunction with the National Protected Areas Commission, the Federal Police and the Navy.
It will incorporate the use of two drones, one at Escobilla, a beach between Puerto Escondido and Huatulco, and another at Morro Ayuta, between Huatulco and Salina Cruz.
Highway checkpoints will also be set up and additional beach and sea patrols by Profepa inspectors and the Navy are also being considered.
So far this year, Profepa has registered 33,884 nests dug by this year’s turtles; most are under protection and the remaining 2,000 are being monitored by the drones.
Authorities seized 5,000 stolen eggs last weekend but were able to return them to the beach and bury them in the sand.
Mexico News Daily is conducting a poll asking their readers if they would eat illegal turtle eggs if they were offered to them. As of today, only 3% have said yes.
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