Conversations on ConservationEco Concepts and Changing BehaviourEnvironmental Management

A cluster of dead Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) Sea Turtles were found floating off the southern coast of Mexico, entangled in a net. The Sea Turtles were discovered on Tuesday (28th of August 2018) by Fishermen in the Southern state of Oaxaca, off the coast of La Barra de Colotepec, Mexico’s federal agency for environmental protection said. The net the Sea Turtles were entangled in, is an illegal net prohibited by the Mexican government. These Sea Turtles were found already in a decomposing state by the fisherman and marine authorities. The prosecutorial office for crimes against the environment (PROFEPA) of the government and other agencies are busy investigating this great environmental tragedy. The Olive Ridley Sea Turtles are considered as endangered by Mexican officials and also by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The great drop in their numbers as with other endangered species is chiefly due to human activities. The dead Sea Turtles have since been removed from the ocean and buried, to avoid any further contamination.

The Olive Ridleys, named for their pale green skin and shell, descend on a number of Mexican states along the Pacific coast between May and September to lay eggs. The following are some facts about the Olive Riddley Sea Turtles;

  • It is the second smallest after the Kemp’s Riddley, weighing between 75-100 pounds (34-45kg).
  • They can reach 2 to 2.5 feet in length, approximately 62-70cm in length.
  • They have a powerful jaw which allows them to eat many things in the sea like crustaceans (such as shrimp & crabs), mollusks, tunicates, Algae, fish, crabs, and shrimp.
  • The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle lives in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific, Indian (which covers also the South African coast) and the Atlantic Oceans.
  • They nest in a synchronized nesting called the Arribadas (Spanish word for arrival), produce an average clutch of about 110 eggs with an incubation period of 52 to 58 days. Nest 2 times a season.

Conservation Status;

  • In the United States of America the Olive Ridleys are listed as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, but they are slowly moving towards being endangered or in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future, according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. They are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN).

Threats;

  • Harvesting of adults and eggs, plastic pollution, incidental entanglement in commercial fishing nets and loss of nesting habitats due to Human beings coastal exploitation are the main threats to this species. In a nutshell, some human activities that are not environmentally conscious affect these species and not only them but impact as well on the whole marine ecosystem.

 

What we need to do;

  • Practice responsible behaviour.
  • End plastic pollution.
  • Educate each other about sustainable behaviour.
  • Support conservation projects.
  • Report all irresponsible human activities to marine authorities.
  • Report all washed up sick, injured or dead marine life.

This great loss comes a couple of days after 113 endangered turtles were also found dead in the Southern State of Chiapas, Mexico. The Sea Turtles were found over period between 24 July to 13 August 2018 in different parts of the Puerto Arista sanctuary. They possibly died due to asphyxiation, fish hooks or harmful Algae as per communication between PROFEPA and Reuters.

It is estimated that about 640 000 metric tonnes of fishing nets are lost and/or discarded into our oceans each year, entangling and killing large numbers of marine life. Amongst the affected, a countless number of marine mammals like the endangered Whales, Seals and Turtles. The coastal shallow reefs are also heavily affected as they suffer degradation from the abandoned gear, of which can take more than 500 years to decompose. The facts of this matter were covered by the World Animal Protection.

The Olive Riddley Turtle tragedy