MEXICO CITY Mexican police have seized tens of
thousands of eggs of endangered turtles from a group of
smugglers in the southern state of Oaxaca, where the eggs are a
delicacy believed to have aphrodisiac powers.
Police arrested six people when a search at a police
roadblock near a Oaxacan beach turned up 57,000 Olive Ridley
turtle eggs, the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
Hundreds of thousands of Olive Ridley turtles have landed
on the state's Pacific beaches in recent days, part of an
annual egg-laying migration.
The eggs are a traditional part of the diet on Oaxaca's
sweltering coastal plains, where markets openly display them
alongside turtle meat, despite laws prohibiting their sale.
Turtle products are valued for their flavor and many people
believe the eggs have aphrodisiac properties.
Olive Ridley turtles, found in the Americas and Asia, are
listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act,
although their numbers seem to be rising in the Pacific because
of conservation measures.
The small turtles have been spotted by ships far out to sea
and they return to the same beaches each year to lay and bury
in the sand up to 100 eggs each.
Scientists disagree over what triggers the landings. After
gathering offshore, thousands of turtles will converge
simultaneously on a beach.
Mexico's environmental investigation authority said the
captured eggs would be destroyed because they had been
unearthed too long to be hatched artificially.