Author: Jennifer Maclellan
I bet you thought this was going to be about some military operation destroying the habitat of an endangered species; if so prepare to be happily mistaken. The situation is quite the contrary as the Mexican Navy Patrols have moved in to protect the nesting grounds of the endangered Golfina or Olive Ridley Turtles as they begin laying their eggs on what is described by locals and scientists alike as the ‘most important beach for marine turtle nesting in the world.”
Each year thousands of turtles arrive on the beach at Oaxaca, Mexico to begin nesting. This year federal and local authorities have been deployed to protect the turtles and their eggs from poachers. As officials patrol the grounds at least 5 biologists record the number of nests and number of eggs in each. Last year the turtles left roughly 1.3 million eggs in the beach and researchers expect the same thing this year.
They come in waves throughout the nesting season which can range from June until December. Each wave can bring anywhere from 50-thousand to 70-thousand turtles. Because of conservation efforts and protective measures such as the military presence, the populations of the Golfina have increased and they are now classified as vulnerable. While many other species of turtle remain on the endangered list the Golfina has seen a resurgence and acts as a concrete example of possibilities.
Like many species of turtle the Golfina was hunted for decades. Its eggs were taken for food or sold. In 1990 a law was passed that banned the hunting and sale of turtle meat in Mexico and they now work towards public information campaigns that discourage poaching.
Those who once hunted and sold turtle meat in Mexico are now employed as guides leading tours of the Pacific to view the turtles in their natural habitat. As is the case with all animals, protecting their interests can be far more profitable.