Susan C. Gardner and Wallace J. Nichols. 2001. Assessment of sea turtle mortality rates in the Bahía Magdalena region, Baja California Sur, México. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 4(1):197–199.
In 1972 the Mexican government began to regulate the capture of sea turtles (Secretaria de Pesca, 1990). Although regulations now exist that forbid the capture or consumption of turtles, they are often difficult to enforce. Along the Baja California Peninsula there are numerous natural resource-dependent communities. In many of these towns, such as those in the Bahía Magdalena region, the majority of the inhabitants are employed as fishermen who have limited economic alternatives. In towns such as these, sea turtles have been historically considered a delicacy to be served on special occasions (Caldwell, 1963; Felger and Moser, 1987). In addition to being a food source, sea turtles were used by coastal communities for various purposes including games and decorations, and gained traditional, even spiritual, importance. Despite the fact that it is illegal to deliberately take a turtle anywhere in Mexico, it has proven to be very difficult to control the use of this resource which is so engrained as part of this region’s cultural heritage (Cliffton et al., 1982; Figueroa et al., 1992; Nichols et al., in press a).
Our study was conducted to assess the mortality of sea turtle populations in the region of Bahía Magdalena. The specific objectives were to identify which species are experiencing the highest mortality levels in this region; to determine the size classes that are most commonly vulnerable, and to estimate the magnitude of mortality of sea turtles in this region.