About 35,000 endangered sea turtles are slaughtered off the coasts of Baja California each year, making its waters the most dangerous place for a sea turtle to swim anywhere in the world. Though it has been illegal to harvest and consume sea turtle in Mexico for more than a decade, black market demand for endangered sea turtle meat is widespread in both Southern California and Mexico.
- Sea Turtles are threatened due to the poaching and hunting of their shells, meat and eggs.
- Turtle eggs are sold as a snack in bars and inns along the coast of Mexico with the absurd belief that they posses aphrodisiac elements.
- During Easter week - Semana Santa in Spanish - as many as 5,000 turtles will meet with poacher's nets to be served for Easter dinner in some of the region's wealthiest households. Many consider the turtles to be fish due to their swimming ability, which is a permitted food category during Lent.
- Highly populated coastal areas and artificial lights on beaches are causing sea turtle hatchlings to become disoriented and travel inland, where they often die from dehydration, are preyed upon by fire ants and ghost crabs, or sometimes crawl onto the road where they are run over by cars.
Mexico plays a crucial role in the survival of the world's sea turtles. Once a year, seven of eight species use the country's beaches to lay their eggs, sometimes up to 100 at a time in holes dug in the sand at night.
Today WiLDCOAST has an office in Huatulco, Oaxaca, close to the most important beaches for sea turtle survival, beaches like Morro Ayuta and Santa Cruz. This year - 2012 - we help protect 15 beaches where over 400.000 adult turtles came to nest; and we made sure that 10,000,000 hatchlings made it to the ocean unharmed
Practical steps you can take to protect and preserve sea turtles.
DON'T EAT SEA TURTLE MEAT OR EGGS.
If you live in Mexico, there is a phone number to report the illegal trade of sea turtle products to the environmental ministry enforcement. The more denouncements authorities receive, the better they will be able to perform their job. In Mexico call: 01800-7703372. If you live outside of Mexico contact your local authority for environment related denouncements. You can also report his crime at PROFEPA's website.
Recruit local fisherman to work on monitoring teams. They are in the water everyday confronting poachers and confiscating illegal nets and have spread the word about the sea turtle's endangered status through their communities.
Local efforts have made it much harder to move large 300 pound turtles from remote fishing villages to the cities where it can be sold on the black market.
- Educate locals that the turtle eggs are not aphrodisiac.
WiLDCOAST is well-known for campaigning against the consumption of sea turtle eggs and meat.
- In 2001, during Pope John Paul II's visit to Mexico, we asked him to invite Catholics not to eat sea turtle meat during Lent. This marked the birth of our first “don’t eat sea turtle” campaign.
- In 2002 we uncovered the reality of the black market for sea turtle meat, inviting a well-known sea turtle poacher as a spokesperson against the consumption of sea turtle meat. These campaigns were so successful in reducing the consumption of sea turtle meat in northwest Mexico, that the Mexican environmental authorities asked us to start a new campaign against the consumption of sea turtle eggs.
- In 2005 we launched our most successful campaign ever, with playboy model Dorismar, who raised a huge controversy and attracted the attention of millions of people throughout the world (See campaigns).
- In 2006 we joined the soccer passion during the World Cup and invited soccer idols Jorge “El Brody” Campos and Kikin Fonseca as spokespeople.
- In 2007 and 2008 Wildcoast was honored to have legendary international wrestling “lucha libre” legend El Hijo del Santo as spokesperson to halt sea turtle meat and egg consumption in Mexico. The campaign consisted of printed materials (posters, stickers, banners, billboards), press conferences with national and international media, and interviews in broadcast media.
- Since 2007 we have carried out a “Don’t Eat Sea Turtle Eggs” campaign in central and southern Mexico with press conferences held and materials distributed throughout the Mexican state of Guerrero, reaching an estimated audience of 1.1 million people in that region. 300 large ads featuring El Hijo del Santo vs. the Sea Turtle Egg Eaters were posted at bus stops in the Mexican cities of Acapulco, Mazatlán, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Veracruz and Estado de Mexico. Fifteen million people saw our message to stop consuming sea turtle eggs and to report their illegal trade.
- In 2011, we broadcast the “Don’t Eat Sea Turtle” message through 22 media outlets, in six cities throughout Mexico, and reached an estimated one million people. In response to the campaign the Archbishop of Acapulco called on parishioners to stop consuming sea turtle eggs and meat.
Our campaigns in radio, TV and printed media have allowed us to reach millions of people in Mexico and Latin America. We firmly believe that if we are able to reduce the consumption of sea turtles, we will be able to eradicate a huge black market that threatens these spectacular species.