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  HOME | Science, Nature & Technology

Scientists Try to Determine Why Sea Turtles Are Not Nesting in Nicaragua

MANAGUA – Sea turtles arrive in large numbers every year in August on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast to nest, but only a few of the marine creatures have made the journey this season, creating a mystery that scientists are trying to solve.

The government blames climate change for the scarce numbers of sea turtles in 2013, but scientists consulted by Efe have their own theories.

A climate change expert said global warming may not be directly responsible for the lack of sea turtles, while an ecologist pointed to environmental quality as the culprit and a wildlife specialist said the turtles’ reproductive cycle may have taken a pause.

About 250,000 sea turtles can appear on Nicaragua’s beaches during the October-December season, while an unknown number journey ashore individually, the Flora y Fauna environmental group said.

Up to 5,000 turtles used to swim ashore on some beaches, such as La Flor and Chacocente, on one night, but the arrivals are now being spaced out over a 10-day period, ecologist Kamilo Lara told Efe.

Scientists say more than climate change may be affecting the sea turtles.

“It would be too risky to say there is a direct relationship between climate change and the arrival of the turtles, we know the Pacific Ocean is a place of great energy,” climate change expert Jose Antonio Milan said.

Climate change may not be directly responsible for the absence of turtles because the El Niño weather phenomenon, for example, is not affected by it and did not occur this year, Milan said.

If the water temperature has an effect, the only explanation is that it is a phenomenon “about which we do not know anything in Nicaragua,” the scientist said.

Lara, for his part, said the absence of sea turtles is likely linked to pollution in the ocean.

Sea turtles may be sick, consuming toxic substances or being slaughtered by fishermen offshore, Lara said.

Former Nicaraguan protected areas director and environmental consultant Milton Camacho has another theory.

“I consider it something normal, a priori, because the turtles have reproductive cycles, like hens,” Camacho told Efe.

Sea turtles normally lay between 100 and 120 eggs per night.

Only one in 1,000 hatchlings reach maturity, the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry said. EFE


 

 

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