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Nesting marine turtles thrive while beaches around the world remain empty during lockdown

Baby green turtles emerging from the sandBaby green turtles emerging from the sandAccording to the latest reports, the number of marine turtles (most species of which are endangered species) are on the rise. In India, for example, many more baby turtles have been observed hatching out on beaches compared to previous years. The largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades has been recorded on Thailand's beaches, empty of tourists because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Scientists say this is because there are fewer tourists or locals visiting beaches while lockdowns and curfews are in force in many countries. As a result, there is less disruption both to the adult female turtles as they arrive on beaches to lay their eggs, and their tiny offspring as they hatch out and run across the sand to the sea. The number of boats plying the waters offshore from these turtle beaches is also down, making it safer for turtles to swim to and from the coast without suffering collisions.

Adult green turtleAdult green turtle

Green turtle laying eggs Green turtle laying eggs Like all species of marine turtle, olive ridley turtles lay their eggs on a select number of beaches around the world, to which they return each year. This normally happens during the early spring. The southeastern coast of Odisha state, India, is one such place. Nesting this year began on 21st March, two days before lockdown, and continued until the 27th. The female turtle lays her eggs in a pit she digs in the sand, then covers them over before returning to the sea. Her eggs incubate in the heat from the beach sand and hatch after 45–60 days. In late May, an estimated 20 million olive ridley hatchlings reportedly made their way to the sea, having successfully dug their way to the surface of the beach.

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