Spike In Sea Turtle Nests As Beaches Left Empty From Covid-19 Lockdown


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockApr 21 2020, 21:22 UTC

Unlike other species of sea turtle, leatherback turtles don’t have a hard shell or scales. greenmanyong/Shutterstock

While much of the planet is staying at home due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, sea turtles appear to be taking advantage of the peace and quiet.


At least 76 leatherback sea turtle nests have been found on Juno Beach in South Florida since the end of February, according to the Loggerhead Marine Life CenterWhile it’s still early in the season, the number of nests looks promising. It’s too soon to say whether this boost in numbers is directly attributed to the Covid-19 lockdown measures, but either way, it's reassuring to see this fragile natural process continuing to tick on despite the wider problems in the world.

“We’re excited to see our turtles thrive in this environment,” Sarah Hirsch, the center’s senior manager of research and data, told local news channel WPEC CBS12“Our world has changed, but these turtles have been doing this for millions of years and it’s just reassuring and gives us hope that the world is still going on."

On the other side of the globe, conservationists have seen a similar story along the beaches of Thailand in Southeast Asia. As per Reuters news agency, 11 different wildlife authorities across Thailand have observed the highest number of leatherback nests in 20 years, partially thanks to the lack of human disturbance in recent months. 

“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.”

Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest living species of turtle, weighing up to 900 kilograms (just under 2,000 pounds) and measuring up to 1.8 meters (6 feet). Unlike other species of sea turtle, they don’t have a hard shell or scales but a back covered with firm rubbery skin. The species is considered vulnerable to extinction under the IUCN Red List and is thought to be suffering from declining numbers across the world. 

Back in February and March, over 200 critically endangered hawksbill turtles, along with almost 90 green turtles, were born at a beach in Paulista, Brazil’s Pernambuco state. Although their numbers don't appear to be affected by the country’s lockdown measures, the hatchings enjoyed a notably more peaceful stroll down to the water compared to previous years. 

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