Death of olive ridley sea turtles is a mystery in the Pacific

Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Coast guard crewman displays a dead turtle.

Costa Rican environmental officials are faced with a mystery over why sea turtles are dying.

A crew of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas found and recovered 15 dead olive ridley turtles Tuesday, and Pablo Fernández Castro, head of operations at the Golfito coast guard base, said the creatures showed no signs of injury. Initially the coast guard crew suspected a bacterial infection. The dead turtles are being taken to the Refugio de Tortugas Marinas de Osa for what amounts to autopsies.

Although the coast guard found only 15 turtles, there are reports of many more dead olive ridleys in the Pacific. The sea turtle is called a lora in Spanish and its Latin name is Lepidochelys olivacea.

The coast guard crew reported it surveyed the area from Punta Banco to Punta Burica in extreme southwestern Costa Rica. Crew members also went ashore to inspect the many beaches where the turtles nest. They said they did not find any more dead turtles.

Because of the danger of some type of disease, the coast guard urged residents not to touch any dead turtles or move them.

The coast guard also said that the dead turtles did not show any sign of being hooked. Longline fishing operations frequently hook turtles that then drown when they cannot surface for air.

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