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Good news for Yucatán’s sea turtles

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
After decades of declining numbers, sea turtle populations in Yucatán are improving, but are not out of the woods quite yet. Photo: Courtesy

Sea turtles continue to be endangered in Yucatán, but a new study suggests that their numbers are beginning to recover. 

There are three species of sea turtles native to the Peninsula: the caguama, carey, and verde — all of which are endangered.

The carey was once the most endangered, but harsh punishments against the trafficking of its meat, shells and eggs seem to have helped the species bounce back from the brink of extinction. 

“We have seen great improvements in the numbers of carey turtle nests — 2,645 in all. In Celestún alone we documented 526,” said Melania López, coordinator of an association focused on the conservation of sea turtles in Yucatán. 

Earlier: Baby turtles head to sea with help of international residents

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the absence of vacationers left Yucatan’s beaches free and clear for sea turtles. 

In another piece of good news for the state’s biodiversity, for the first time ever in Yucatán, biologists recorded the birth of a species of turtle known as tortuga Lora.

The largest nesting grounds for lora turtles are located on the coasts of the Mexican states of Veracruz and Tamaulipas.

Though a black market for sea turtle eggs and shells continues to exist across Latin America, changing attitudes have seen it shrink considerably over the past few decades. 

But sea turtles in Yucatán, as in much of the world, continue to be threatened by myriad man-made factors such as climate change and habitat loss.

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