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Having evolved some 130 million years ago and outlived even the dinosaurs, sea turtles today face threats so huge that, without worldwide conservation efforts, their survival into the next century would be almost impossible.
The greatest threats to sea turtle populations come in the form of human population pressures, which include:
•Habitat destruction (both of nesting and feeding sites)
•Accidental drowning in fishing gear
•Unnatural lighting on nesting beaches (causing disorientation of hatchlings en route to the sea)
•Unsustainable harvesting of eggs and turtles (for use as food source, medicinal qualities and ornamental purposes)
Sea turtles are also faced with natural predators throughout their long life histories. Animals such as raccoons, coatis and foxes seek out and dig up nests from the beach.
Those lucky enough to hatch are then faced with the threat of a hungry bird or crab on their journey to the sea; and once in the sea, sharks and other fish are just waiting for an easy feed. Research suggests that on average, only 1 out of every 1000 to 10,000 hatchlings (0.01 to 0.1%) reach adulthood to nest and reproduce.
Help is at Hand
Seven of the world’s eight species of sea turtles are known to nest on Mexican beaches, and extensive conservation networks are in place in order to protect nesting sites. The coast of Jalisco is one of those important nesting sites, and several groups are involved consevation projects here.
The work involves patrolling nesting beaches and collecting all the nests encountered. They are then relocated in a protected area close to the camp. Patrolling of the beaches makes it far more difficult for poachers to come into contact with turtles and the relocation of nests decreases the chances of predation from the poachers and other animals. Volunteers and staff at turtle camps also monitor the hatchling rates and release the hatchlings into the sea.
For more information on becoming a volunteer on one of the most productive nesting beaches in Jalisco, please contact us.
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