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Ecotourism Helps Promote Sea Turtle Conservation in Mexico

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Poached and hunted for their shells, meat and eggs, sea turtles are considered a lucrative commodity on Mexico's black market. More than 35,000 are "slaughtered" off the coast of Baja California Sur each year, making six out of the seven subspecies of sea turtles endangered, according to WILDCOAST-an international ecosystems and wildlife conservation team. While the illegal practices of harvesting or consuming sea turtles has yet to stop, ecotourism is one-way grassroots organizations and sustainable travel companies raise awareness and promote the survival of such sea life. 

The seven species of sea turtles-flatback, green turtle, hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley-inhabit the world's oceans except the Arctic. For the most part, sea turtles' habitats never overlap; each species swims in distinctly different areas and possesses unique characteristics. Since the Mexican government banned the harvesting of sea turtles in 1990, they are the only remaining species of "ancient reptiles," dating back 200 million years when dinosaurs walked the earth, according to the Association for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja (ASUPMATOMA).

ASUPMATOMA, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to the protection of endangered sea turtles off the coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico. With five out of the seven subspecies of sea turtles inhabiting the ocean and beaches of Baja California Sur, this region is a vital nesting habitat and feeding ground for the species, according to ASUPMATOMA. But as "rapid land development, pollution and illegal hunting and fishing practices" continue to endanger sea turtles, many conservation projects, formed by grassroots organizations and travel companies, rely on ecotourism to promote sea turtle conservation.
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