The Mexican government and WILDCOAST worked together to help protect more than nine miles of sea turtle nesting beach at Morro Ayuta, Oaxaca, where in 2017, more than two million Olive Ridley sea turtles laid their eggs. The wild and mostly uninhabited beach on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast is one of 12 beaches in the world where there is massive nesting of Olive Ridley turtles.
Through WILDCOAST’s partnership with Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas (CONANP), the equivalent of the U.S. National Park Service, 9.3 miles of this key nesting beach for Olive Ridley and the critically endangered leatherback sea turtles are now permanently protected.
“We are grateful to the government of Mexico for preserving the pristine beach of Morro Ayuta that is crucial for the survival of threatened and endangered sea turtle species,” said Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WILDCOAST.
Unfortunately, illegal poaching of meat and eggs, and even more so, the threat of development in their habitat, weigh heavy on most sea turtle species. That is why WILDCOAST is working on the monitoring, surveillance and protection of turtles and Morro Ayuta in partnership with CONANP, the Mexican Turtle Center, SEMARNAT, and the Mexican Navy,” he added.
In 2008, WILDCOAST and CONANP initiated a conservation partnership to preserve the federal coastal zone, the first 60 feet of shoreline above the maximum high tide line, in key wildlife habitats and federal protected areas along Mexico’s Pacific coastline. To date CONANP and WILDCOAST have protected more than 1,000 miles of coastline to help protect against sea level rise and and prevent coastal development that impacts globally important coastal ecosystems. The 9.3 miles protected in Morro Ayuta is one of these conservation concessions.
WILDCOAST’s federal zone conservation tool has protected other critical wildlife habitat in Mexico, including the gray whale breeding lagoons in Laguna San Ignacio, Ojo de Liebre, and Guerro Negro, as well as vast mangrove forests in Bahia Magdalena and the Gulf of California, and the beaches that front the unique and fragile coral reef of Cabo Pulmo National Park near Cabo San Lucas.
As next steps to the protection of Morro Ayuta and its incredible and diverse natural surroundings, WILDCOAST is working with CONANP and the local community to declare the area as a federally protected wildlife reserve and protected area. This would provide long-term protection to an area known for its abundant sea turtles, marine mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals such as deer, jaguarundi, and anteaters.
“This is a tremendous conservation victory for the protection of sea turtles and Oaxaca’s coastal and marine ecosystems,” said Eduardo Najera, WILDCOAST’s Mexico’s Director. “We are so fortunate to have this partnership with CONANP to be able to develop and use this conservation tool,” he continued.