Fishermen report boats surrounded by hundreds of dead Eastern Pacific green sea turtles — Official says some found swimming in circles as if dazed or confused

Published: November 7th, 2013 at 1:07 am ET


The Tico Times (Costa Rica Newspaper), Nov. 6, 2013:  Hundreds of dead Eastern Pacific green sea turtles could be headed for the shores of Costa Rica […] At least 70 dead turtles were spotted on beaches and shallow waters […] “We have reports from fishermen whose boats are surrounded by hundreds of dead turtles,” Roger Blanco, the lead investigator for the Guanacaste Conservation Area with SINAC told The Tico Times. […] Two barely alive turtles were pulled from the carcasses already found and taken to the National University (UNA) […] Veterinarians were able to save one of the turtles, which will be released tomorrow in the coastal province of Puntarenas. The other turtle died on the operating table. UNA veterinarians are now studying some of the dead turtles to determine the official causes of death. […] “If a turtle has a hook in its mouth, if it has been hit in the head, then it didn’t die of natural causes,” [Didiher Chacón, the Costa Rican director of Widecast] told The Tico Times. “Not all of the turtles had these types of injuries and it is not fair to say that we are 100 percent sure that it was fishing in every case” […] Roberto Umaña the head of Incopesca in Guanacaste told The Tico Times in an interview that he has seen no evidence that would point to longline fishing. Later via a string of emails, Umaña revealed another suspect: dynamite. According to the emails, some turtles were found “swimming in circles” as if they were confused or dazed. […]

NOAA: […] Because of the highly migratory behavior of adult turtles, and the likelihood of shifting habitat requirements of post-hatchlings and juveniles, the populations of East Pacific green turtles in the Pacific Ocean cross international boundaries. […] The west coasts of Central America, Mexico and the United States constitute a shared habitat for East Pacific green turtles. […] The East Pacific green is the second-most sighted turtle in the east Pacific during tuna fishing cruises […] Along the Pacific coast of America, East Pacific green turtles have been reported as far north as British Columbia […] Adult and juvenile green/East Pacific green turtles have also been reported […] along the Washington coastline […] the East Pacific green turtle was the most commonly observed hard-shelled sea turtle on the U.S. Pacific coast. […]

Published: November 7th, 2013 at 1:07 am ET


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29 comments to Fishermen report boats surrounded by hundreds of dead Eastern Pacific green sea turtles — Official says some found swimming in circles as if dazed or confused

  • m a x l i

    This could be an adequate description of the current state of humankind: Dazed and confused, swimming in circles. Whatever is affecting the turtles is affecting us.

    • kintaman kintaman

      Canaries in the coal mine if you will but we humans are too stupid and arrogant to see what is happening before our own eyes. Sadly we will pay the ultimate price for our grave ignorance.

  • We Not They Finally

    It seems like in the natural world, whole species seem to go down at once — the herrings, the sardines, the sea lions, the turtles, the salmon….

    I wonder (might google it) is there is some master map of the ecological food chain to do some real detective work on what's connected to what. Doesn't mean it will save anything, but might help us better relate.

    • unincredulous unincredulous

      Rise of Godzilla. Life will take advantage of whatever niche it can adapt to. We are the dinosaurs. What clues can we find in the Chernobyl babies? What advantages are there to having your brain grow outside of your skull. Wouldn't that be just weird to see a human brain with 1000 tiny legs crawling up the side of a tree? Life may let us live but take away our arms and legs so we can't do any more harm to the planet.

  • Alpha1

    As I said Billions will dye and I mean in the sea as well as land, when the oceans die we have little time left before man starts to fall out off the food chain as well…

    The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.

    Albert Einstein

  • Max1 Max1

    What m a x l i said…

  • Sol Man

    No, those are just politicians hanging out waiting for their support checks from the guys that corrupt our representative democracy.

  • PurpleRain PurpleRain

    OMG! This is so upsetting!~~~~~

  • I live in Nicaragua, just north of the Guanacaste coast. There have been reports lately that the Nicaraguan fishermen have been using dynamite in desperation because of decades of overfishing. (The Japanese government had to built a new port in my town as compensation for the overfishing n the 1990s.) I live on the ocean right next to a fish co-operative. The locals have been complaining about small catches for a while. It is turtle season right now, so likely the turtles have been affected by the explosions.

    • m a x l i

      @Kelly Ann, so, the explosions are aimed at certain kinds of fish, and the turtles are collateral damage? I was wondering, in case in the above story dynamite is to blame, why would someone kill or stun hundreds of turtles and forget to collect them.

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      OT, but re: species overkill, this type of "fishing" (use of dynamite) is practiced in Asia, as well. It is also common to put lines out in shallow waters, with hooks strung all along the lines. Abalone fishermen and divers off the California coast have been having problems for years, getting snagged in the lines. The fish population is being decimated. Very few of the rock fish survive long enough to reproduce.

    • But HUNDREDS of them?

      Maybe a few, possibly stretch this to a few dozen..

      But HUNDREDS?

      This would mean that turtles swim in packs and one bomb got them all.

      Odds are high against this, because as far as we know, turtles are loners, swimming all by themselves far from other turtles.

      Anyone have any better idea?

  • hbjon hbjon

    What types of fish are caught with dynamite? So I know what not to buy.

    • or-well

      Living ones.
      Google blast fishing.

    • mairs mairs

      My brothers would throw M80s into the ocean and watch the fish go belly up and float on the surface. They were in their teens at the time.

      • HoTaters HoTaters

        Kids used to do that in the creek I lived near, growing up. It would stun or kill all the spawning trout and steelhead in the immediate area. Great for poachers, bad for everyone else.

        • Different species. Fish do group together by the hundreds. They gather together in holes and hiding places..

          You can kill many at once with one explosive device..

          Turles? Not like that… Have you ever seen a video of a 'school' of turtles?

  • mairs mairs

    I'm so tired of sketchy, incomplete information. They saved one and the other died on the operating table? What was their method of saving the one? What was wrong with it that they were able to treat it? Why were they operating on the other one? For what purpose?

    I'm sure there will be no more information forthcoming.

    • Slingerss Slingerss

      I have the same questions. At our Marine Hospital turtles only go into the OR for emergencies, like boat strikes, monofilament entangelment, swallowing hooks. That sort of thing. So are they saying these were "blast" injuries? Many boat strike victims do end up in the OR to stop blood loss, etc.
      Wish there was more information.

    • The tail had radiation burns, so they smeared burn ointment on it.


  • weeman

    Green turtles spent the majority of there life's in open ocean, they migrate to the eddies and swirls in ocean to feed and where you would expect to find elevated levels of radiation, never mind all the plastic and waste that ends up in stomach and is not digestible and leads to starvation.
    I believe that the green turtle is a endangered species?, the right whale is protected.

  • Slingerss Slingerss

    All of the Sea Turtles are on the endangered list. I have to work under a special permit to even care for them in the hospital. You are correct Right Whales are also endangered.

    Sea Turtles spend their ENTIRE lives in the ocean, and only the females will ever come to shore and that is to nest and then go back to the sea.

  • bwoodfield bwoodfield

    They're primary diet is the algae and sea grasses that would the primary uptakers of the radiation as well.

    "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
    it tolls for thee. . . . "
    from Meditation 17
    by John Donne

  • Lady M

    Looks like these sea turtles fell victim to fishin' rather than fission.

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Just more death created by the Hand of Man… 🙁

  • Anything is possible. Since no details are shared and no investigation was done, who knows?

    It could be radiation, just like it could be a fishin bomb.

    Expect no answers from the 'experts', just like the 70% die off of seals, open sores on walruses and polar bears, and dissolving star fish.

    We emailed some leading ocean biologists asking for information about methane lethality around ocean creatures such as star fish, but got no reply as of today.

    Maybe the job description of experts is to not answer any questions? Maybe the job description includes never to actually do any investigation of mass die offs to determine causes?

    This does not bode well for humans.. When a mass die off of humans happens, the same question will be asked, and no answers will be forthcoming there either…

  • Jebus Jebus

    I think that a bale of pacific green sea turtles is not very common.
    But, common sense tells us that this is not a natural die off.

    Fukushima? Costa Rica? Remote possibility at this time, IMO.

    If it is from Fukushima, were fucked!

    Tsunami chemical soup? More probable. Add it up yourself…

    Tracking them seems to be a very popular scientific sport though…