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Turtles with deadly tumors found in Mexico

Specimens of black turtle were found in Sinaloa, Mexico with fibropapilloma tumors, a devastating sea turtle disease

Sea turtles with deadly herpes tumors found in Mexico
Fibropapilloma is a devastating sea turtle disease – Photo: Courtesy of Alan Zavala Norzagaray
English 14/11/2019 15:41 Mexico City Javier Cabrera Actualizada 16:00
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Two black turtles found in a week in the coastal lagoons of Navachiste, Guasave, and Topolobampo have huge fibropapilloma tumors, a devastating sea turtle disease, bigger than seen before in this species.

Alan Zavala Norzagaray, head of the Wildlife Department of the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Comprehensive Regional Development (CIIDIR), said that they are carrying out genetic studies as well as of the behavior of their movement, to locate the places where this turtle feeds.

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The researcher said there are antecedents of similar specimens of this species with smaller tumors in the area of Ojo de Agua, Baja California, and near the Kino Bay in Sonora.

Zavala Norzagaray explained that they still do not know for certain what causes some specimens of this sea turtle to develop tumors, for they are carriers of the Chelonian Five herpes virus, but contaminants, garbage, and plastic that reach the sea as well as climate change can be linked to the problem.

The researcher said that the two turtles were caught by fishers of Guasave within a week and experts are performing different studies on them for which they will be retained permanently.

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Alan Zavala said that the prevalence of the accumulation of contaminants in the coasts of the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico is very high, so it is mandatory to locate the areas where sea species concentrate to feed.

He mentioned that the characteristics of the skin tumors developed by turtles measure from 0.1 to 40 cm in fins, skin, tissues, head, cloaca region, plastron, and shell.

Zavala Norzagaray said that it has been shown that environmental stress can be linked to being close to the coast, for when these animals get close to these areas, they arrive in healthy conditions and remain there until they reach reproductive age and migrate.

He pointed out that they do not rule out other factors from being involved in the development of these tumors, such as the presence of different contaminants in the sea, such as agrochemicals, heavy metals, organochlorines, and different kinds of waste.

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