Looters grab 3,700 eggs from sea turtle nests in Yucatan

Discovery mars an otherwise healthy nesting season

The looting of thousands of sea-turtle eggs in Yucatan mars an otherwise good nesting season. Photo: Sipse
The looting of thousands of sea-turtle eggs in Yucatan mars an otherwise good nesting season. Photo: Sipse

Merida, Yucatan — Over 3,700 eggs have been stolen from sea turtle nests in Dzilam de Bravo, Telchac Puerto and Sisal, said the Committee for the Protection and Conservation of Marine Turtles of the State (Coctomy).

While looting is not common in Yucatan, conservationists are concerned about the safety of the numerous sea-turtle nests up and down the Gulf coast.

A lucrative black market for sea-turtle eggs continues across Latin America, where they are used as food and considered to have medicinal properties. In other parts of the world, eggshells are used in ceremonies or turned into jewelry. Shells from the turtles themselves are turned into jewelry.

In Mexico, they are usually sold to bars or restaurants and eaten raw, or the raw egg is dropped into a mug of beer. They are prized as an aphrodisiac.

A long nesting season, from March to October, gives poachers plenty of opportunities to strike.

The head of the Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife (Semarnat), Salvador Canul Dzul, confirmed that several nests were illegally raided.

Despite the incidents, the nesting season is going well, he said.

Since March, 919 hawksbill turtle nests were counted in Yucatan, a number similar to last year’s. By the end of the season, the number of nests is expected to double, representing around 89,000 hatchlings.

{ Related: Endangered hawksbill turtles return to Akumal }

It is too soon for statistics on the green turtles, whose arrival are just beginning.

Canul Dzul vowed that surveillance and protection, care and preservation of sea turtles will be maintained in camps at Celestun, Sisal, Arrecife Alacranes (Scorpion Reef), Telchac Puerto, Dzilam de Bravo, Las Coloradas and El Cuyo.

In Costa Rica, investigators plant fake turtle eggs, embedded with GPS chips, to track poachers.

With information from Sipse, Tico Times and the Dodo

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