Mexico Marks World Turtle Day as Species Numbers Continue to Drop

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Tuesday, May 23, is World Turtle Day, and Mexico is known for its sea turtles, which come ashore each year between June and November to lay their eggs in the sand.

Although human poachers and natural predators continue to be a threat to the survival of the turtles, Mexico runs a number of programs to protect these remarkable Testudines.

Sea turtles are found in all of the world’s oceans, with the exception of the Arctic.

There are seven different species of sea turtles, and six of these arrive in Mexico each year to lay eggs.

Although sea turtles live most of their lives at sea (and mate at sea) the females must return to land to lay their eggs.

A sea turtle’s nest may contain up to 200 eggs, and the female will bury her clutch of eggs in the sand, where they will incubate for around 50 days before hatching.

Then the baby turtles make an often-perilous journey from the beach to the ocean.

Over the last 200 years, human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners.

Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and overexploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear.

Climate change also has an impact on turtle nesting sites, altering sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings.

Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered.

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