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Sea turtles are thriving on empty Yucatan beaches

Official hatchling counts are called off, but anecdotal evidence points to a banner season

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Due to the emergency caused by the new coronavirus, Semarnat did not issue permits to operate the entity’s eight turtle fields. Photo: Sipse

The absence of vacationers and frolicking pleasure seekers has left Yucatan’s beaches free and clear for hawksbill and white turtles this season.

The chelonian nesting season started on April 15 and ends in October, although at some areas it could last until November.

The regional head of the Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) said that despite the fact that this year the federal agency did not issue permits for eight nesting fields, residents report the arrival of turtles.

The permits were denied under coronavirus health contingencies disallowing non-essential activities. That also explains the absence of crowds on the beach this time of year.

In Yucatan, eight turtle camps are managed by the Secretariat for Sustainable Development (SDS), Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan (PPY), the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) and the Center for Technological Studies of the Sea (Cetmar), all under supervision by Semarnat.

“The good thing is that there are people who are reporting a lot of turtle arrivals, which is very good, although we may not count it, but the following year we will do the interpretation and we will know what this year was like to follow up on and know if there was an affectation to the turtle population or not,” said José Salvador Canul Dzul, the Semarnat leader.

He has also received unconfirmed reports of turtle-nest looters in Telchac Puerto and Dzilam de Bravo. Turtle eggs are sold on the black market.

Across Latin America, 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. They are also prized as an aphrodisiac.

Source: Sipse

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