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  Yahoo News 8 Feb 07
Rare turtles found dead in Bangladesh
By Tofayel Ahmed

PlanetArk 6 Feb 07
Sea Turtles Dying Along Bangladesh Coast

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh - More than 200 turtles, some weighing 20 kg (44 pounds) or more, have died in the Bay of Bengal along the Bangladesh coast over the past week, government officials and witnesses said on Monday.

"Around 140 turtles were found dead along a 4-km (2.5 miles) stretch of the beach," Mohammad Aminul Islam, deputy commissioner of Cox's Bazar district, said. He said more turtles were dying on the shores of St. Martin island, 35 km off the country's southeastern tip, Teknaf. Fishermen have reported that some dolphins have also died.

No one seems to know why the sea creatures are dying. Islam said he believed the turtles died after being caught in fishing nets.

But fishermen said they did not catch that many turtles to begin with, and when they do, they throw them back into the water.

Marine officials said the deaths could be caused by increased pollution in the bay, from waste disposal of ships or perhaps other unknown natural causes.

Bangladesh has a 90-km natural beach from Cox's Bazar to Teknaf,which is poorly maintained and monitored.

National Geographic News 7 Feb 07
Photo in the News: 1,000 Giant Turtles Wash Ashore in India, Bangladesh
Blake de Pastino

It's nesting season for the sea turtles of Bangladesh and India, but this year the beaches where the animals lay their eggs are eerily still. Nearly a thousand dead turtles have washed ashore along the coasts of both countries in the past few weeks, conservation workers report.

About 200 dead reptiles have appeared in the past week alone along a single stretch of beach, pictured here, in the Bangladeshi tourist town of Cox's Bazar (see Bangladesh map).

A team of scientists visiting the beach on Monday to investigate the mysterious mass deaths concluded that fishing nets were to blame.

Sea turtles swarming the shores to nest are getting entangled in poorly laid nets and drowning, the experts told Bangladesh's Financial Express.

Local fishers have denied the charge, claiming that they seldom catch sea turtles, but when they do they quickly return the animals to the water alive.

Hundreds of miles away in eastern India, however, conservationists say they too are finding evidence that nets are to blame.

"We counted 763 [dead turtles] in the last two months, all dead after getting caught in fishing nets," Biswajit Mohanty, coordinator of the conservation group Operation Kachchappa, told Reuters news service.

"They had bulging eyes and necks," he added, "which indicate they died due to a lack of oxygen after getting dragged underwater in fishing nets for hours."

Yahoo News 8 Feb 07
Rare turtles found dead in Bangladesh
By Tofayel Ahmed, Associated Press Writer

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh - Hundreds of endangered sea turtles have been found dead along Bangladesh's coast in the past two weeks, triggering concerns about pollution and local fishing practices, an official said Thursday.

A team of four scientists has launched an investigation into the deaths of the olive ridley turtles, said Jafar Ahmed, a top official in the government's marine fisheries department.

At least 65 of the sea turtles--ranging from 88 to 132 pounds--have been found dead along a three-mile stretch of beach near Cox's Bazar, one of the main cities on Bangladesh's coast.

Hundreds more dead turtles have been found elsewhere in the area, and on a pair of islands. There is no clear total of exactly how many turtles have died.

Olive ridleys, the smallest of all sea turtles, are endangered. They often come ashore at this time of year to lay eggs, Ahmed said.

There have been reports of turtle deaths before, but not as many as this year, he said.

Ahmed would not give any specific reason for the spike in deaths, but said the use of illegal fishing nets near the shoreline has apparently increased recently.

The fishermen do not properly release the turtles and often kill them, leaving them to wash ashore, he said.

Other turtles that come to lay eggs on the beaches may be killed by pollution, stray dogs or foxes, or captured by tourists, he said.

Mohammad Aminul Islam, the top administrator for the area, ordered local officials to teach people, from fishermen to tourists, to change their behavior.

"It's really sad that we couldn't protect the turtles," he said. "We are trying to mobilize resources to make a bigger plan to save the sea turtles in the future."

Related articles on Global: marine issues and sea turtles
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