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A video that shows turtle carcasses floating on the water has been shared more than 27,000 times on Facebook since July 16, 2019, ensuring that the animals died after a sulfuric acid spill in the state of Sonora in Mexico. Although there was an acid spill in early July, the video was recorded in August 2018 in Oaxaca, in the southeast of the country and shows turtles that died trapped in a fishing net.
“Those environmentalists who are in the amlo projects do not listen to them. This is the work of Grupo Mexico and its owner Germán Larrea, this is ecocidio cabrones [sic], “ reads the legend that accompanies the video of a shared publication. 27,000 times on Facebook, and which refers to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and Grupo México, the largest mining company in the country.
On July 10, 2019, Grupo México reported in a statement that “ the failure of a valve ” caused the spill of three cubic meters of sulfuric acid in the sea terminal of Guaymas, Sonora.
On July 20, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) announced the temporary closure of the Guaymas maritime terminal for “not having an environmental impact authorization.”
Asked by the AFP, Profepa said that to date she had not received a report of dead turtles related to that incident.
Lopez Obrador has caused controversy for its environmental policy in relation to several large projects of infrastructure, challenged at the time by not having the endorsement of environmental impact, to ensure that the flora and fauna not be affected during construction. Grupo México is under investigation by the Ministry of Environmentfor 22 environmental accidents since 1988.
Where was the video recorded?
On the viral video on Facebook you can see that a watermark says “@plasticfreeit”. When doing a reverse search * with some fragments of the video – obtained through the use of the InVid tool – and the keyword “plasticfreeit” the first result was a publication on the Plastic Free page , an Italian organization created to raise awareness about how Plastic affects the ocean.
“Mexico. 300 sea turtles found dead after being trapped in an illegal fishing net, ” is the statement that accompanies the Plastic Free video.
A new search on Google, with another fragment of the video and the words “300 sea turtles” resulted in two similar videos on YouTube, one from the local Gulf Image and another from the EFE agency. The publications, dated August 28, 2018 – the oldest records found – indicate that what is seen in the videos are the corpses of 300 dolphins turtles found that day off the coast of Oaxaca, in southeastern Mexico.
On the morning of August 28, 2018, Civil Protection of Oaxaca reported that it was working on the release of hundreds of turtles trapped in tuna boat nets. But shortly after, he confirmed ” the death of turtles in Costas de Barra de Colotepec “. Both publications show photographs of the same group of turtles that appear in the videos on YouTube and that of Plastic Free.
In this statement, Profepa explained that it was forbidden to use the type of fishing net in which the tortoises were found, a species whose number of specimens has decreased dangerously.
It also clarifies that the turtles were in an advanced state of decomposition and that the cause of death “was due to drowning derived from prohibited fishing gear. “
Se confirma la muerte de tortugas en Costas de Barra de Colotepec que habrían quedado atrapadas en redes de barcos atuneros, @PROFEPA_Mx investigará el tema #Oaxaca @alejandromurat @Heliodoro_hcde pic.twitter.com/mNIkBV4cH6
— ProtecciónCivilOax (@CEPCO_GobOax) 28 August 2018
The video, therefore, was not recorded in July 2019 when a spill of sulfuric acid was recorded by Grupo Mexico in the northern state of Sonora, but corresponds to the finding, in August 2018, of 300 golfin tortoises who died trapped in a fishing net in the southern state of Oaxaca.