Abstract

Olive ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea) are the most numerous sea turtle species worldwide and also locally along the Pacific coast of Mexico. Published data on their distribution and nesting abundance along the coast of Nayarit and northern Jalisco, Mexico are, however, scarce. Here we describe the current extent of conservation activities and the history of efforts to protect sea turtles along this 394-km stretch of coastline. We found that 110 km (of the total of 394 km) are monitored by 18 sea turtle conservation programs, which in 2015 accounted for 43.2% of the total shoreline. Olive ridley sea turtle nesting was encountered on all monitored beaches. Our use of hatchery-protected nests as a measure of nesting levels is undoubtedly an underestimate of overall nesting in the region; however, it nevertheless provides a baseline of current nesting intensity in sites under conservation. Bahía de Banderas presented the highest nesting levels in the study area with 46.4% (3742 ± 904; mean ± SD) of the total protected nests (8073 ± 547) while only representing 14.2% (15.4 ± 3.8 km) of the total area monitored (109.6 ± 4.5 km). The results provided here represent a valuable baseline upon which future research and assessments can be built when analyzing the sea turtle conservation progress in the region.

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