Bird deaths close beach at Escobilla turtle sanctuary; cause remains undetermined

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The still unexplained deaths of seabirds on the coast of Oaxaca has led local and federal authorities to close the beach and sea turtle sanctuary at La Escobilla in Santa María Tonameca.

Officials in Tonameca said the measure to prohibit the entry of visitors is temporary, given that the event that caused the death of wildlife has yet to be explained and could represent a threat to the fauna of the region.

The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) endorsed the measure.

The Playa Escobilla olive ridley turtle sanctuary is located 40 kilometers east of Puerto Escondido.

Measures have not been announced for the remaining locations where migratory seabirds and fish were found dead, including the beaches at Palmarito, Ventanilla, Agua Blanca and Guapinole, as well as Laguna de Zapotalito.

So far, collaboration among several organizations and agencies has been able to rule out bird flu (H5N1) and Newcastle disease, a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry, as the cause of death.

Locally, researchers from Umar, the Universidad del Mar, have carried out necropsies on fresh cadavers and sent biological samples to the laboratories of the National Center for Diagnostic Services in Animal Health (Cenasa), through the United States-Mexico commission for the prevention of foot-and-mouth disease.

However, since the origin of the deaths is still the subject of studies, Umar recommended that the public “avoid handling or having any contact with live seabirds and with apparent clinical signs of disease, as well as keeping pets from approaching the animals or corpses.”

In case of finding dead or sick specimens on the beach, they advised the public to notify the authorities or Umar directly, providing pictures and location data if possible.

Finally, Umar also asked people to avoid spreading messages that are unsubstantiated or supported by laboratory analysis in order to avoid confusion and unnecessary alarm.

With reports by ORO Radio


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