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More than 100 sea turtles found dead on Chiapas beaches

Tonalá , Chiapas — Authorities in the municipality of Tonalá say they have counted 105 dead sea turtles along Chiapas beaches since July.

The grisly discoveries began July 24 when sea turtles began washing up on beaches. The dying turtles are considered a species at risk due to their decrease in numbers. The findings were reported to officials at the Puerto Arista Sanctuary. The deceased turtles include the olive ridley, mud and brown land turtles and the hawksbill.

The bodies of the turtles were initially found by fishermen who say waves have been throwing many of the bodies onto the beaches, while others have been found deceased several meters from the coast. The bodies are being found along a 30-kilometer stretch of the coast of Chiapas at Puerto Arista, Boca del Cielo, Cabeza de Toro and Echeverria.

Some of the turtles found indicate that they are fully grown, more than one meter in length and likely between 80 and 100 years old.

Photo: Federal Office of Environmental Protection

This is the time of year when hundreds of female turtles arrive on the coast of Chiapas to lay eggs, and although some die in the process, authorities say some of the dead sea turtles found have also been male.

Residents and specialists from the Tonalá tortuguero camp held an emergency meeting Friday noting that 15 of the dead sea turtles found were due to fisherman’s nets, which does not account for the balance of dead turtles.

Representatives from the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and the Federal Office of Environmental Protection also attended the emergency meeting. They pointed out that a possible cause of death could be bacteria however, studies are still being conducted.

In June, manatees began dying in the lagoons of Tabasco. Environmental authorities said the cause was due to chemicals used in farming.