Turtles Over Fish: A Family Sea Turtle Monitoring in Mexico

Turtles Over Fish: A Family Sea Turtle Monitoring in Mexico.

Turtles Over Fish: A Family Sea Turtle Monitoring in Mexico. Image: Kino Bay Turtle Group via Facebook.

A family in Bahia de Kino, in the province of Sonora, Mexico, has switched careers from fishing to sea turtle monitoring in an effort to conserve the animals. Their work with Kino Bay Turtle Group is inspiring others to join them in this work.

Sea Turtle Monitoring is Needed

As a result of overfishing, marine ecosystem degradation, and climate change, sea turtles have seen their populations sharply decline. This is a tragedy for many, as sea turtles play an important role in our marine ecosystems and symbolize the ocean’s beauty and biodiversity. 

Active participation in conserving and reintroducing endangered species is critical for rejuvenating our oceans and seas. As such, this is part of the reason why a family based out of the northwestern territory of Sonora, Mexico, decided more than ten years ago to do what they could to help. 

This is the story of the Kino Bay Turtle Group and the Becerra family, which have been working tirelessly with and without government assistance to save sea turtles. 

See also: World’s Smallest, Most Endangered Sea Turtles Hatch For 1st Time In 75 Years In Louisiana.

How Did They Get Started?

Fishers for generations, the Becerra family decided to switch professions after an encounter with a sea turtle in their bathtub. Cosme Becerra had caught the turtle for it to be eaten as part of a festival. However, the cries of the captured turtle left a harrowing impression on him and his wife. They decided to release it back into the wild. 

This started the journey of the Becerra family into conservation work, and as of writing, they have caught, documented, and released 814 green sea turtles and olive ridley sea turtles. 

They saved up and purchased an old fishing boat for sea turtle monitoring of populations and also use it to free the turtles from being tangled in fishing nets. They feed the information they gather from monitoring turtles into a collaborative database, which scientists and other researchers can use. 

They are also continuously searching for other sources of revenue to fund training by which they can continue and increase the work they do. Groups such as the Prescott Center have donated to help keep operations going, while other groups like Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP) have helped provide training for their monitoring. They also received the Recognition for the Conservation of Nature Award, an annual award by CONAP. 

They recently have begun training indigenous youth in sea turtle monitoring in Mexico, specifically the Comcáac youth so that they can start their own turtle conservation group. This training is very important to the Comcáac because their people have a special connection with the turtles. 

According to the Comcáac creation myth, a turtle helped their creator Hant Caai form the earth using sand from the bottom of the sea. “There is an exchange of knowledge, which is important because, in some way, we also contribute to conservation in a natural way,” said Aarón Barnett, the 28-year-old leader of the new conservation group. Sea turtle monitoring joins modern science and data collection with indigenous knowledge and history.

With or Without Assistance, they Help the Vulnerable

Restoring marine ecosystems is incredibly important. The only way to accomplish the total restoration of our oceans and seas is through active conservation. The example that the Kino Bay Turtle Group sets is crucially important, as they show that their work is theoretically useful and has material impacts. 

By providing grants and assistance, the Mexican government can accelerate and amplify the work already being accomplished on a much larger scale. However, it is being done without them, as the Kino Bay Turtle Group has gone years without funding from the government. 

The Kino Bay Turtle Group’s drive, determination and body of work are a testament to the successes that can be achieved by citizen-led science and action. As their success stories unfold in different locations worldwide, you can be sure that we will see more and more groups pop up to help regenerate and restore our natural world, with or without assistance.

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