Rare turtle lays eggs on Samui

Rare turtle lays eggs on Samui

Reduced human activity good news for endangered species

In an image from 2016, a juvenile Hawksbill sea turtle that had been raised in a “head start” programme swims out toward the open sea after being released by young volunteers from the local community group on Koh Tao in Surat Thani. (Bangkok Post File Photo)
In an image from 2016, a juvenile Hawksbill sea turtle that had been raised in a “head start” programme swims out toward the open sea after being released by young volunteers from the local community group on Koh Tao in Surat Thani. (Bangkok Post File Photo)

A critically endangered turtle emerged from the sea to lay at least 80 eggs on a beach on Koh Samui just minutes before the start of World Environment Day — one more sign of how wildlife is making the most of the coronavirus pandemic limiting human movement.

The Hawksbill sea turtle chose a beach on the island normally visited by several million people each year, and was tracked by veterinarians thanks to an implanted digital chip.

National parks and wildlife conservation staff were on the spot to collect a blood sample and check the health of the turtle, which they estimated to be about 30 years old.

The Hawksbill’s numbers have declined significantly because of the trade in its shells, which is now illegal.

But 2020 has been a bumper year for turtles in Thailand, which has recorded the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades, found on beaches empty of tourists.

The kingdom was visited by nearly 40 million people in 2019, but is expected to see that number slump to about 14 million this year due to the impact of Covid-19 on global travel.

With local infections slowing and restrictions easing, the country hopes to get tourism, which accounts for 12% of its economy, back on track through domestic promotions and by marketing itself abroad as a “trusted” destination.

Local conservationists said that on Koh Samui alone, turtles have laid eggs on more than a dozen occasions over the past four months.



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