As the Thailand tourist industry reels under the coronavirus lockdown, one positive spin-off has been the discovery of 11 new rare leatherback sea turtle nests.
And towards the end of last month, 84 hatchlings were noted by employees at a national park in the southern province of Phanga Nga.
It may not sound like much, but’s it’s reportedly the most number of nests which have been recorded in the last two decades. In the past five years, not one nest was found.
Female leatherback turtles do not lay eggs every year – their intervals can range from two to seven years.
The sea turtles prefer to lay their eggs in dark, quiet areas, which are usually rare with partying tourists around. People also steal the eggs to eat or to use as an aphrodisiac.
Other sea creatures in Thailand including dolphins and dugong have also reportedly increased in sightings.
Thailand has been under lockdown since March 9, bringing an abrupt end to overseas visitors. As well as a sudden clearing of the country’s immensely popular beaches. More than 30 million international tourists visit the country every year.
Turtles also thriving in other parts of the world
But now like many similar cases across the world, we’re seeing how wildlife bounces back when the human world slows down.
“This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center, told Reuters.
“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.”
There have been other similar reports of turtles thriving.
On India’s east coast, nearly half a million endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles were able to dig nests and lay eggs. In Brazil, around 100 hawksbill sea turtles hatched on a beach in near the town of Paulista. Florida’s beaches have also seen an increased amount of turtle activity.
Leatherback sea turtles are the largest turtle in the world and can reach more than two meters long. They are considered endangered in Thailand while the World Wildlife Fund have listed them as a vulnerable species.
Their average lifespan is thought to be more than 30 years. In some instances more than 50 years. It takes about 60 days for sea turtle eggs to incubate into hatchlings. Migrations between breeding and feeding regions can average as much as 6000km.