El Salvador Studies Mystery Deaths of Rare Turtles
SAN SALVADOR More than 100 rare sea turtles have washed up dead on Pacific beaches in El Salvador this month, and scientists said they were struggling for an explanation.
A total of 119 dead turtles have been found at different points along El Salvador's coast since the start of the year. The turtles belong to the Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and Green turtle species.
"The final cause is still unknown," said Claudia Vega, a veterinarian with the El Salvador Zoological Foundation.
The Environment Ministry is analyzing tests carried out on an dying turtle last week and said it was too early to draw final conclusions.
Environment Minister Hugo Barrera initially suggested the animals had been killed by careless fishing boats, but other officials have since suggested pollution or venomous algae could be responsible.
Every year, millions of turtles swim to Pacific beaches in Latin America, where they lay their eggs. Until recently, they were frequently hunted for their meat, putting them at risk of extinction.
Scientists say intense conservation campaigns mean that populations of Olive Ridley turtles are recovering in Mexico, but all five species of sea turtle are considered endangered.