At Least 300 Olive Ridley Turtles Found Dead in Discarded Fishing Net in Mexico
At least 300 turtles have been found dead, trapped in a discarded fishing net off the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico.
The cause of the animals' death is not currently clear, with various reports citing fish hooks, harmful algae and suffocation. The turtles were partly decomposed, indicating they had been dead for several days. Nevertheless, the net, which is reported to be at least 120m in length, is not legally approved for fishing in the region. It is not clear whether the net was deliberately set, or whether it had been abandoned or lost by a tuna fishing vessel.
The olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the smallest turtle found in the world's oceans and is currently listed as 'vulnerable' to extinction on the IUCN red list. They are known to nest in huge numbers, one possible explanation as to why so many became trapped in the net at the same time. The discovery comes just a week after a further 113 turtles were found to have died in a marine sanctuary in the Mexican state of Chiapas
Coordinación Estatal de Protección Civil de Oaxaca – the State of Oaxaca's Coordination of Civil Protection – is working to free and bury the turtles, and has promised to investigate the reason as to why the net was present in the area, with the potential criminal prosecution of the owners as a result.