SOURCE: ASUPMATOMA

April 29, 2008 14:12 ET

Natural Preserve for Endangered Sea Turtles North of Cabo San Lucas Threatened by Development

Land Ownership Dispute in Los Cabos Leads to Destruction of the Last Private Preserve for Nesting Sea Turtles Near Cabo San Lucas

SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO--(Marketwire - April 29, 2008) - The last private preserve for nesting beaches for endangered sea turtles in the Los Cabos area is being threatened by a land dispute between the founder of the environmental group, ASUPMATOMA, and a developer from the State of Sinaloa, Mexico.

Rene Pinal, owner of the San Cristobal Nature Preserve and founder of the non-profit organization ASUPMATOMA (Association for the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja), is battling a Sinaloa-based company from bulldozing and building on his property that consists of more than three miles of pristine shoreline, 15 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas.

For nearly two decades, Pinal, and his group, have dedicated their lives to protecting endangered sea turtles there, which have lost most of their habitat in the Los Cabos area to hotels and resorts that now cover the shoreline, as well as become victims of illegal hunting and fishing, beachfront lighting and pollution.

On the private San Cristobal preserve, biologists teach children in the area's schools about turtles, and how these creatures that date back to the time of the dinosaurs are now endangered. ASUPMATOMA also teaches the public about sea turtles and other environmental issues, in addition to providing tours of the preserves and opportunities for the public to interact with the sea turtles.

The estate, while primarily undeveloped, also contains a very low-density real estate subdivision that relies on alternative energy such as solar and wind, and turtle-friendly low sodium yellow lights that lessen impact on nesting turtles and hatchlings.

But Pinal's problems began on July 27, 2007, when a Sinaloa-based company, with the help of corrupt government officials, was able to successfully register falsified land deeds, according to the official notary archives of the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, to claim approximately 750 acres of his natural preserve.

Ever since, as the company has been attempting to clear Pinal's land for development, he and his group have been battling the takeover and are determined to regain control of his land to keep the preserve intact. Despite this, he and his group of biologists and volunteers are continuing their efforts to protect the sea turtles that come ashore to nest each year.

Pinal feels strongly that the best way to prevent the development of this nesting beach is to bring the land dispute to the public's attention. "Last year, on this shoreline, ASUPMATOMA protected 562 nests containing 59,361 eggs," he said. "In result, 41,684 newborn baby sea turtles were released to the sea with the help of nearly 2,000 children who participated in the sea turtle rescue efforts and ASUPMATOMA's Environmental Education Program."

He continued, "If that were to stop, not only do the turtles lose, but so do we, as well as future generations. We encourage people to become involved. Come to San Cristobal. Help the turtles. Your concern and presence will show the developers that this is not just one more beach that should be covered with buildings. With the development of the coastline and beach traffic, the turtles have nowhere to nest."

The San Cristobal Nature Preserve is open to the public year round. However, the sea turtle season is from July 15 to December 15. Tourists are encouraged to tour ASUPMATOMA's sea turtle nursery with biologists and release hatchlings to sea. The best times to adopt and release a newborn baby sea turtle are September through November. Visitors interested in a tour to see the turtles may do so by contacting Baja and Beyond Tours at 866-558-3180 or www.bajabeyond.com.

About ASUPMATOMA

ASUPMATOMA, which stands for the Association for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the endangered sea turtles and the environment of Baja California Sur, Mexico. For more information, visit www.savetheseaturtles.org.

Contact Information

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    racheln@berkmanpr.com