Sea turtles have been spotted laying eggs on a beach on Koh Samui for the first time in decades.
It was reported on Thursday that sea turtles had flocked to Laem Sor Beach, with 14 nests counted after islanders noticed their footprints.
"The discovery means the ecology of the island might be revived to a level that sea turtles can return," said Sakanan Plathong, an expert in marine ecology at the Prince of Songkla University.
The animals are known for only breeding on quiet beaches.
Sea turtle nests have also been spotted at beaches on the Andaman coast, mostly in Phangnga and Phuket.
Others areas where nests have been found are in conservation zones operated by the Royal Thai Navy in Chon Buri.
Until this week, marine scientists had yet to record any turtle nests on Koh Samui.
Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a veteran marine ecologist and deputy dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University, posted on his Facebook yesterday of his delight at the finding and expressed gratitude to the islanders for helping to ensure the safety of the nests.
He said that because the Covid-19 measures had led to the beaches being closed, the animals had ventured ashore on the island for the first time in decades.
A total of 269 eggs had been counted in the nests, he wrote.
Mr Thon said Koh Samui Beach is a public beach and since islanders discovered the nests they have been helping to make sure that they remain undisturbed while the eggs are given time to hatch.
"The villagers love the turtles. They always keep the beach clean. This discovery will only help to strengthen the bond between the islanders and their environment.
"The news of the turtle nests on Koh Samui has also been circulated in foreign countries, which is good news for the reputation of marine conservation in Thailand," he wrote.