Thailand’s Rare Sea Turtles Are Building Nests on Empty Beaches During Coronavirus Outbreak
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Last updated - 08:06 PM
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The number of rare leatherback sea turtles building nests on Thailand beaches has reached a two-decade high with the area empty of tourists due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Phuket Biological Center.

Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center, told Reuters the 11 turtle nests authorities have found on the beaches since last November are the largest number in about 20 years. One turtle nest contains around 60-120 eggs which take around 60 days to hatch.

“This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” Kittiwatanawong told Reuters, noting no such nests had been found in the preceding five years. “If we compare to the year before, we didn’t have this many spawn, because turtles have a high risk of getting killed by fishing gear and humans disturbing the beach.” 

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Leatherbacks, the world’s largest species of sea turtles, are both considered a vulnerable species globally and listed as endangered in Thailand. They lay their eggs in dark and quiet areas, scarce when tourists thronged the beaches. People have also been known to dig into their nests and steal eggs. In late March, staff at a national park in the southern province of Phang Na bordering the Andaman Sea found 84 hatchlings after monitoring eggs for two months.

In Thailand, with 2,792 infections and 47 deaths as of Monday morning, travel curbs ranging from a ban on international flights to an appeal to citizens to stay at home have resulted in a collapse in tourist numbers, and freed up the beaches for wildlife.

Lockdowns have resulted in numerous animals venturing into normally inhabited areas, including wild boars in Haifa, Israel, and deer wandering the suburbs of London, while swans and fish have been spotted in Venice’s canals while they are free of boat traffic.

The reported nests are just the latest case of wildlife entering areas temporarily abandoned by humans due to the outbreak.

In March, a herd of more than 100 goats invaded a small village in Wales amid the United Kingdom's lockdown procedures. 



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