Thailand’s deserted beaches might look tragic from a tourism point of view, but there are some upsides that might not be immediately apparent. In the absence of humans, leatherback sea turtles are nesting in the largest numbers seen in 20 years on beaches in Thailand. Since travel bans are preventing tourists from visiting, and social distancing restrictions are making Thai people stay home, wildlife has reclaimed the beaches.
Recently, authorities have found 11 turtle nests, which is the most in two decades. Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center, told Reuters, “This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans. If we compare to the year before, we didn’t have this many spawn, because turtles have a high risk of getting killed by fishing gear and humans disturbing the beach.”
Leatherbacks are the world’s largest sea turtles, and since they’re endangered in Thailand, the number of nests is an encouraging sign for the species’ survival. Typically, the turtles lay their eggs on quiet beaches, which is not an easy thing to find in the tourist-heavy nation. While it might sound too dastardly to be real, people have also been known to steal turtle eggs, or dig through nests.
Something tells us the leatherbacks aren’t exactly missing the old normal.