At least 300 sea turtles have washed up dead on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Preliminary exams suggest that the olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) drowned, an official with Mexico’s environment ministry said.
The official said they had probably become tangled in illegal fishing nets in the high seas or in abandoned nets known as “ghost nets”.
Olive ridley turtles are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The IUCN says that their population is decreasing and that they are listed as vulnerable because they only nest in a small number of places.
The turtles were found washed up on Morro Ayuta beach in Oaxaca, on Mexico’s western coast. The beach is one of the sites where olive ridley turtles come to lay their eggs.
All of the dead animals were females, turtle expert Ernesto Albavera Padilla told local media.
It is not the first time a large number of olive ridley turtles has been found dead in Oaxaca. In 2018, fishermen found 300 of them entangled in fishing nets.
Mexico banned the capture of sea turtles in 1990 and there are stiff penalties for anyone killing them.
Officials said Mexico’s navy would join environmental authorities in their investigation of the deaths.