Silver Lining: Endangered sea turtles flourishing thanks to Covid-19 restrictions
Researchers are currently seeing an increase in turtle nests as restrictions are keeping humans off of beaches.
Research carried out by marine life researchers in Florida has shown that the coronavirus restrictions, such as keeping humans off the beaches, is having a beneficial effect on the numbers of endangered leatherback sea turtles in Florida.
The summer nesting season is barely two weeks old, and already 76 nests have been found and marked on Juno beach, a nine and a half mile beach stretch which is monitored by the Loggerhead Marine life Center. There is already a “significant” increase from the same stage last year.
The increase in numbers is raising hopes for an abundant nesting season for the endangered leatherbacks, as well as loggerhead turtles, who are also vulnerable. Loggerheads will begin to arrive to lay their eggs before the end of May.
Sarah Hirsch, the center’s senior manager of research and data, told West Palm Beach news channel 12 "We’re excited to see our turtles thrive in this environment...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.”
David Godfrey, the executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, believes the coronavirus lockdown is advantageous to turtles in several ways. He explains “The chances that turtles are going to be inadvertently struck and killed will be lower.” This is because “All of the reduced human presence on the beach also means that there will be less garbage and other plastics entering the marine environment."
From 2019's nesting season, the Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission recorded almost 400,000 sea turtle nests on the state's coastline, which is 845 miles. Only about one in every one thousand hatchlings survive. This can be influenced by hatchlings being disorientated by lights, so this season will hopefully mean that more reach the sea.