Photos of empty beaches around the world have surfaced in the internet, and what people got excited about was the hundreds of sea turtles finding its emptiness a blessing in disguise.
As humans remain locked up inside their houses due to the coronavirus pandemic, animals finally have the chance to roam around freely to other places they have never been before. For sea turtles, the beaches look better as their nesting sites this season.
Conservation officials who are tasked with managing the nesting sites reported an increase in the number of female turtles returning to beach sites to lay their eggs.
Nearly 475,000 Olive Ridley turtles were found creating nests in broad daylight along the beaches of Rushikulya and Gahirmatha in the eastern part of Odisha, India. Odisha Wildlife Foundation reported that at least half of all Olive Ridley turtles nest on Indian shores.
Though it seems like the turtles finally had the chance to go to beaches for nesting season due to lack of people, Wildlife Institute of India researcher Bivash Pandav told Mongabay-India that it is important to note that the lockdown has nothing to do with thousands of turtles nesting on the beaches.
“If the turtles were indeed responding to the lockdown, then they should have been nesting at Gahirmatha all the time where the beach is permanently locked down, due to inaccessibility and presence of deference establishment,” he told Mongabay-India in an interview. “Turtles strictly respond to certain environmental variables like tidal conditions, wind direction, lunar phase, and nest in mass accordingly.”
However, director of research at Loggerhead Marinelife Center Justin Perrault told the Sun Sentinel that it is good to notice that lack of humans is having a positive impact to the environment to some animals’ way of lives.
“What we find is fewer humans leads to turtles successfully nesting, as opposed to [the turtles] turning around and going to the water,” Perrault said.
Amlan Nayak, district forest officer, said they do not allow people to get too close to nesting hotbeds, but having the lockdown and people staying at home definitely gives a bigger advantage to the animal’s protection.
“The advantage of lockdown was that we could divert our workforce more towards cleansing the debris on beaches and counting the nesting activities. When tourists come, part of our manpower is diverted to regulate and manage them,” said Nayak.
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