Red Tide Causes Sea Turtle Die-Off in El Salvador
Wildlife Conservation Society
March 23, 2006
A "Red Tide" event that occurred off the coast of El Salvador late last year directly caused the deaths of some 200 sea turtles, according to test results released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other organizations.
"The rapid response and subsequent diagnosis in this outbreak demonstrates the power of collaboration among governments and non-governmental organizations," said White, who collected tissue samples in January. "We are still testing samples from other turtles that died during this period, but we can say with some certainty that Red Tides first reported in November resulted in widespread sea turtle mortality."
Baby sea turtle. Photo by N. Butler
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Red Tide events have become increasingly common around the world, causing significant impacts on wild marine animal populations, massive economic losses to shellfish producers, and occasionally human deaths. While the algal blooms are a natural occurrence, human wastes such as run-off containing fertilizers and sewage from urban areas have been postulated as triggers for these events.
Response to the sea turtle die-off was a coordinated effort involving WCS, USAID, the Salvadoran Ministry of Environment (MARN), the Salvadoran Ministry of Agriculture's Division of Fisheries (CENDEPESCA), and FUNZEL, a non-profit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization. Tissue samples were tested in labs operated by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the University of Florida.
This is a modified news release from the Wildlife Conservation Society.