Newly-hatched babies leatherback sea turtles are seen before making its way into a sea for the first time at a beach in Phanga Nga district. Pictures: Reuters
Newly-hatched babies leatherback sea turtles are seen before making its way into a sea for the first time at a beach in Phanga Nga district. Pictures: Reuters

PICS: Deserted Thai beaches lure back rare turtles

By Jiraporn Kuhakan Time of article published Apr 20, 2020

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Bangkok - Thailand has found the largest

number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades

on beaches bereft of tourists because of the coronavirus

pandemic, environmentalists say.

From wild boars patrolling the Israeli city of Haifa to deer

venturing into London suburbs, virus closures are drawing

wildlife into the abandoned streets of many cities.

In Thailand, with 2 765 infections and 47 deaths, travel

curbs ranging from a ban on international flights to an appeal

to citizens to stay home have brought a collapse in tourist

numbers, but freed up the beaches for wildlife.

A newly-hatched baby leatherback sea turtle makes its way into a sea for the first time at a beach in Phanga Nga district. Pictures: Reuters

The 11 turtle nests authorities have found since last

November were the highest number in 20 years, said Kongkiat

Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological

Center.

"This is a very good sign for us because many areas for

spawning have been destroyed by humans," he told Reuters. No

such nests had been found for the previous 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."

A newly-hatched baby leatherback sea turtle is seen before making its way into a sea for the first time at a beach in Phanga Nga district

Leatherbacks are the world's largest sea turtles. They are

considered endangered in Thailand, and listed as a vulnerable

species globally by the International Union for Conservation of

Nature.

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.

A newly-hatched baby leatherback sea turtle makes its way into a sea for the first time at a beach in Phanga Nga district

Late in March, staff at a national park in the southern

province of Phanga Nga bordering the Andaman Sea found 84

hatchlings after monitoring eggs for two months.

Reuters

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