Hundreds of Turtles Dead on the Coast of El Salvador

Major sea turtle deaths occurred in both 2013 (200) and 2006 (120)/Photo: AFP
Hundreds of Turtles Dead on the Coast of El Salvador

Ridley turtles, the species most impacted in the die-off, has recently been upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable.”

Between 300 and 400 death turtles were discovered off the coast of El Salvador, according to Inverse.

It remains unknown what has caused the turtles to wash up on the shores of the Latin American country, which began occurring late last month in large numbers.

National Geographic compared the deaths of the turtles to a similar incident involving major sea turtle deaths of about 200 in 2013 and 120 in 2006.

In both instances, red tide was identified as the cause of death.

Red tide, as explained by National Geographic, refers to toxicity in algae blooms which often results in post-ingestion deaths in sea turtles.

The Salvadorian ministry of environment and natural resource also commented on social media regarding the deceased animals found on Jiquilisco Bay.

Most of the turtles were reportedly in a state of decomposition. The carcasses are currently being examined to determine what might have caused the mass deaths of the animals which were discovered by scientists.

“There is not a lot of information provided about the sea turtles so we can only speculate regarding the cause of this mortality,” assistant research professor at Auburn University, David Steen, explained to Inverse.

“Given that officials are conducting laboratory tests, we can probably rule out purposeful killing by predators (including people). However, turtles could be drowned in fishing nets. Other potential causes could be stress changed by changing temperatures, a bacteria or virus or even a parasite.”

Hawksbills, leatherbacks, olive ridleys, and green turtles are found in the plagued area.

Ridley turtles, the species most impacted in the die-off, has recently been upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable,” according to a National Geographic report.

Mike Liles, director of the country’s branch of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, said about 300 additional dead turtles may have been found 30 miles west of Jiquilisco Bay.

But, the report has not been confirmed by El Salvador’s environmental ministry.

Toxicology tests are being conducted at the University of El Salvador to determine if the deaths of the turtles were caused by red tide.

Shrimp trawlers, which have been widely used in El Salvador since the 1970s, has resulted in the deaths of turtles in the past.

However, on October 17, a month-long block on shrimping has effected in El Salvadorian waters to allow the populations to replenish.


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