01 | Context


Although green sea turtles have inhabited the Pacific coast of Mexico for millions of years, for the past few decades these ancient mariners—known locally as tortugas prietas or “black turtles”—have struggled to survive a relentless onslaught of hunting

As recently as the early 1980s, there were still some twenty-five thousand of their nests each year along the Mexican coast. But as demand grew for turtle meat and eggs in Mexico and across the U.S. border, turtle hunting multiplied exponentially. When the Mexican government outlawed the trafficking of sea turtles in 1990, turtle hunters were labelled poachers and smugglers overnight, but the practice continued. By the mid-1990s, poaching, fishing nets, and habitat pollution and destruction had caused the number of nesting females to drop to less than five hundred.

Twenty years later, Grupo Tortuguero, a local grassroots organization, is active in fifty coastal communities. Hundreds of local volunteers, many of whom are former poachers, work to protect and promote an appreciation for and pride in these gentle animals.

Read the full story by Andrew D. Blechman here.

Keywords: Black sea turtle; green sea turtle; Mexico; poaching

02 | Photography