Published On: Wed, Nov 9th, 2016

OPINION: Saving Mexico’s endangered sea turtles will be good for tourism too

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Adán Echeverría-García, Yucatan native, is a Professor and Postdoctoral Researcher at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California. He writes in that seven of the world’s eight sea turtles species nest on the beaches of Mexico – undertaking the serious business of reproduction in 17 of the country’s 32 states.

That means 53% of Mexican national territory, which is flanked by both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, is home to sea turtles.

But in a country with one of the world’s most extensive shorelines, nesting beaches for turtles are disappearing. Climate change, human development, and the complex interaction between the two are to blame.

Across the world, turtle species are already endangered: most populations have seen a drastic decline of more than 80% in under 20 years. Mexico has detected a sharp decrease in the populations of Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), and the species is now critically endangered. Similarly, the number of Hawksbill turtles nesting (Eretmochelys imbricata) on the sanctuary beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula has dropped from 6,400 nests in 1999 to less than 2,400 in 2004 – a 63% decrease in five years.

The author with a Carey sea turtle in the Yucatan Peninsula. (PHOTO provided)

The author with a Carey sea turtle in the Yucatan Peninsula. (PHOTO provided)

Now, beachfront environmental damage in Mexico, both human-made and climate change-related, is further endangering these already vulnerable creatures further.

Beautiful beaches, so many tourists

Of Mexico’s tourism zones, 45% are on the coast, and five of the country’s top 10 tourist destinations are beach locations (Cancun and Cozumel, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Mazatlan).

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