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Sea turtles and their habitats are being monitored from space

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A Hawksbill turtle is seen swimming over coral in Cozumel. Photo: Getty

Mexico’s various species of sea turtles are tracked and studied via satellite these days.

Researchers from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) and the Advanced Research Center (Cinvestav) are gathering data to help preserve the tortugas.

“All this data will be used for spatial analysis. We will evaluate their interactions with environmental variables, identify the feeding environments we have already encountered, as well as their vulnerability,” said the coordinator of the Cinvestav Mérida Remote Sensing Laboratory, María de los Ángeles Liceaga Correa, who works out of Progreso.

The satellite is communicating with transmitters placed on the turtles’ shells on 38 nesting beaches in Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Veracruz and Tamaulipas. “This method allows us to have better information about their behavior and distribution, while allowing us to identify critical habitats throughout the life cycle,” said the coordinator.

Sea turtles make a run for the water. Photo: Getty

The researcher told the national science agency Conacyt that the collected data will allow to identify the health and conservation states of the marine and coastal ecosystems where the turtles walk.

The loss of coastal lagoons, seagrass beds and reefs threatens the existence of sea turtles.

Of the seven species of sea turtles that exist in the world, five inhabit the Gulf of Mexico. More than 95 percent of their lives are spent at sea, but it’s their nesting time on land that worries conservationists.

A single turtle can lay eggs three or four times in one season; each egg incubates 60 days under the sand.

Along the coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula researchers are monitoring the Green Turtle (Chelonia Midas), Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).

Sea turtles here have been a protected species here since 1990.

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