Coronavirus lock down raises numbers of rare marine turtles in Thailand

12 Feb 2021

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Thailand has found the highest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches hidden from tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic, environmentalists claim.

Lockdowns attract animals through several open places, from wild boars wandering across the Israeli city of Haifa to deer venturing through London suburbs.

In Thailand, with 2,792 illnesses and 47 fatalities as of Monday morning, transport restrictions, ranging from a prohibition on international airlines to an appeal to people to remain at home, have culminated in the collapse of visitor numbers and have opened the beaches for wildlife.

The 11 turtle nest authorities have recorded since last November is the largest amount in 20 years, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, director of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

"It is a really positive indication for us, as many breeding habitats have been ruined by people," he added. No such nests have been identified for the preceding five years.

"When we compare with the prior year, we haven't seen too many births, but turtles have a strong chance of getting destroyed by fishing equipment and people damaging the shore."

Leatherbacks are the biggest sea-tortoises in the world. They are deemed threatened in Thailand and are classified by the International Union for Nature Conservation as a vulnerable species globally.