The turtles were spotted off the Mexican coast.
Fishermen in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico, made a disturbing discovery on Tuesday: more than 300 dead sea turtles floating in the Pacific near the coastal town of La Barra de Colotepec.
The turtles are believed to have been killed after becoming entangled in a 393-foot-long fishing net—a kind that’s prohibited in the area, according to officials with Mexico’s office for environmental protection.
The loss is an especially devastating one, coming just a month after 113 additional turtles were found washed ashore on a beach in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. The majority of the turtles found dead, in both instances, are Olive Ridley turtles, a species that’s been endangered along the Pacific coast of Mexico since 1978. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, human activities (particularly related to fishing activity) are the biggest threat to the population.
In Mexico, often dubbed the sea turtle capital of the world, the killing of a protected sea turtle species is a criminal offense. The government’s special prosecutorial office for environmental crimes is currently investigating this case to find those responsible.