Deaths of turtles come as no surprise for those who sail here

William M. Patterson photo
Scenes like this are typical along the southwestern beaches of the country.

Dead sea turtles in the Pacific are nothing new, according to an environmentalist who spends a lot of time on the ocean.

She is Sierra Goodman of Fundación Vida Marina. She said by email from Drake Bay Thursday that the foundation’s dolphin and whale tours see plenty of dead sea turtles. She blamed long-line fishing activities and shrimpers who can catch turtles in nets.

Ms. Goodman said that usually only persons on the water see dead turtles, but that recent winds have brought the dead animals to shore and to the attention of residents and the media.

There may be hundreds of dead turtles along the beaches of the southern Pacific coast.

The use of shrimp nets without obligatory turtle excluders could be one answer to the riddle of why some turtles do not show signs of being hooked. Environmentalists have blamed long-line fishing crews for the deaths, but some of the turtles do not show that they have been hooked. Without excluders that let captured turtles swim free, the animals die.

William M. Patterson, an expat investor in southern Costa Rica, reported again Thursday that the turtles that he saw and photographed near Pavones appeared to be drowned instead of hooked. There were no marks on them, he said.

Ms. Goodman said that in the past tour boats on the Pacific had to be guided carefully for fear of hitting swimming live turtles. Now that is not the case, she said, adding that sometimes she would see just 10 a day.

“It is a shame, and the commercial fishing in this area is completely changing the face of our waters here,” she said. “Not to mention, the tuna boats continue to massacre Costa Rica’s own species of dolphin, the Costa Rica spinner dolphin. It is time for the government to step up and for Costa Rica to be the true eco country it claims to be both on land and at sea.

Meanwhile, the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía said it will investigate the turtle deaths.

The Servicio Nacional de Guardacoastas said that the crew of one of its boats took 15 dead turtles out of the water earlier this week. The turtles were supposed to go to specialists for autopsies. The coat guard blames bacteria for the deaths.

This entry was posted in Costa Rica News. Bookmark the permalink.