As many as 400 sea turtles were found dead, floating in waters eight miles off El Salvador’s Pacific coast near the Jiquilisco Bay biosphere reserve as reported in The Telegraph.
Officials from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources have collected samples for laboratory analysis to determine the cause of death. The turtle’s species has not been disclosed.
Sadly, mass sea turtle die-offs have occurred in these waters before, most recently in September and October of 2013.
In 2006, approximately 500 sea turtles were killed when a potent neurotoxin called saxitoxin was produced by algae during a red tide. It may prove that the most recent turtle die-off was caused by turtles feeding on toxic algae. (photo – afp)
Toxic Red Tide Devastated Chile’s Fishing Industry In 2016
A massive algal bloom, considered historically, a worst case occurred in 2016 off the coast of Southern Chile. That event devastated the country’s fishing industry for a loss of over $800 million and was the cause of economic riots in numerous coastal cities dependent on salmon fishing.
Red tide is also potentially harmful to humans, who can become seriously ill from eating oysters and other shellfish contaminated with red tide toxins.
Toxic Blue-Green Algae on Florida Beaches
In July of 2016 we reported on an unprecedented bloom of toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) washing onto Florida’s Atlantic beaches from Lake Okeechobee that caused the state’s governor to declare a state of emergency.
The origins of this toxic bloom were linked to high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, two compounds that leeched into the lake from industrial farming and phosphate mining.
Red Tide and Ecosystem Degradation Impact El Salvador’s Sea Turtles
The mangrove forests along El Salvador’s Pacific coast support a diverse habitat that includes sea turtles, crocodiles, caimans, alligators, iguanas and snakes. Unfortunately, this area is also being impacted by coastal development for tourism, agriculture and the construction of commercial salt ponds. Combined with events like red tide, the deterioration of the ecosystem threatens the survivability of the area’s marine species.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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