With the coronavirus restrictions keeping humans and harmful waste off beaches, endangered leatherback turtles in Florida are expected to enjoy a disturbance-free hatching season this year.
Nesting season for leatherback turtles — the world’s largest sea turtle species — is now well underway and researchers have already counted 71 nests in Juno Beach. Typically it takes 60 days for sea turtle eggs to incubate and for hatchlings to emerge.
But during that time on an active beach, lots of things can happen to that nest — it can get trampled, people can dig it up, and artificial light can harm the hatchlings. With fewer people and vehicles on the beach, the situation might be quite different, leading to less disorientation for emerging hatchlings and potentially more of them making it into the sea.
While researchers will only be able to measure the success of the nesting season when it culminates in late October, they are hopeful that the people-free beaches will fare well for the hatchlings.
And the coronavirus lockdown is not only benefitting turtles in Florida. On Brazil’s northeastern shorelines, the critically-endangered hawksbill sea turtles have been seen emerging undisturbed from their eggs to make their way down the beach and into the ocean.