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VIP helicopter may have crushed turtle eggs

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A YouTube video shows a chopper landing on protected land, and passengers transferring to a yacht. Photo: Polakas TV
A YouTube video shows a chopper landing on protected land, and passengers transferring to a yacht. Photo: Polakas TV

Mérida, Yucatán — A helicopter carrying high-level officials including Sen. Emilio Gamboa Patrón landed on a protected area, possibly crushing a nesting ground for sea turtles, to connect its passengers with a luxury yacht.

The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, CONANP, is investigating the damage possibly caused by an unauthorized helicopter landing at Scorpion Reef’s Isla Blanca.

The incident was caught on video, and has been shared widely on social media channels.

CONANP Director Christopher Caceres G. Canton said that the aircraft spotted Saturday may have damaged wildlife, in particular birds and sea turtles. Two inspectors will assess the area for damage.

The island is one of five at Scorpion Reef, an area known locally as the Arrecife Alacranes. The coral reef has been designated a national park and is part of the United Nations Biosphere Reserve.

Scorpion Reef mapThe only place a helicopter can legally land at Scorpion Reef is at a heliport owned by the Navy at Isla Pérez.

It is early for migratory birds, but sea turtles eggs could possibly have been crushed under the weight of the helicopter. 

The aircraft was leased by the Yucatecan entrepreneur Emilio Diaz Castellanos, who was traveling with friends from Campeche, where they originally took off. The friends, including Sen. Emilio Gamboa Patrón, exited the copter and boarded a luxury yacht that was waiting for them.

Also on the helicopter was Guillermo Raúl Ruiz de Teresa, general coordinator of ports and merchant marine of the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation.

Source: Media reports

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