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October 01, 2015


Oaxaca, México
Photo by Claudio Contreras

An “arribada”, when hundreds of sea turtles come out from the ocean at the same time to lay their eggs on the beach during three or four days, is an amazing natural phenomenon. This marvelous occurrence only happens on in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, India and México.

The stunning beach of Morro Ayuta in Oaxaca, near the indigenous Chontal communities of Río Seco and Paja Blanca, hosts about 400,000 nesting sea turtles a year. Together they lay about 40 million eggs. From these eggs only about 30% produce live turtles. That results in 12 million baby sea turtles that try to reach the ocean and survive. When they are adults they return to the same beach to nest. Scientists estimate that only one in a thousand make it back to reproduce. However, if conditions on the beach change as a result of development, pollution, or artificial lighting and ocean pollution, sea turtles will not return to nest there.

That is why WILDCOAST is working to conserve Morro Ayuta. In September our staff spent time with side by side with National Protected Area Commission (CONANP) personnel, volunteers, and a film crew from National Geographic observing a total of 50,000 nesting sea turtles! To protect this globally important beach and its wildlife, WILDCOAST is working closely with CONANP to facilitate the monitoring and counting of sea turtles. We are carrying out environmental education in the communities of the region, so that children learn about and become engaged in sea turtle conservation. We are also looking to include the beach of Morro Ayuta in the list of wetlands of global importance of the UICN (a Ramsar site) in partnership with the community, government and academia to promote the conservation of this unique and magical place.