The Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said Sunday that representatives of the airport and Galapagos National Park discovered in a suitcase about 185 samples of turtles, including 10 dead, that were to be transported from the archipelago to the mainland.
“At Beletra airport, 185 turtles were spotted hatching in a bag that was being transported to mainland Ecuador,” the ministry said on Twitter.
The Galapagos Islands are located 1,000 kilometers off the Ecuadorian coast, and feature unique flora and fauna.
The ministry said that this discovery took place “during a routine inspection” between Galapagos airport and Papua New Guinea, and that police and prosecutors “are taking action”, without giving further details.
“The age of turtles does not exceed 3 months and their shell is very small,” Galapagos Airport said in a statement, which makes it difficult to locate these turtles in their original location, as each species differs depending on the island to which it belongs. .
The statement said they were wrapped in plastic bags and ten of them did not survive.
Environment Minister Marcelo Mata condemned in his tweet “these crimes against animals and the natural heritage of Ecuadorians,” expressing his conviction that these facts “will be punished with all the strictness stipulated in the applicable regulations.”
The illegal trade in wildlife is a crime that carries a prison sentence of between one and three years, according to Ecuadorian law.
The archipelago, which served as a natural laboratory for the English scientist Charles Darwin for his theory of species evolution, takes its name from the giant turtles that live there.
Giant turtles arrived three to four million years ago in this volcanic region of the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists believe that ocean currents dispersed turtles on the islands, resulting in 15 different species – three of which are now officially extinct – each of which have adapted to their lands.