COVID-19 Restrictions May Boost Leatherback Sea Turtle Nesting
by Katherine J. Wu/Smithsonianmag.com
Every spring, Florida’s shoreline welcomes a swath of seaworthy visitors: female leatherback turtles, crawling ashore to swaddle their eggs in the sand.
In past years, this ritual has been imperiled by increasing amounts of human activity, with abandoned trash, plastic and bits of fishing gear threatening to choke or snare the marine creatures. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to beaches is restricted, clearing coasts of people and their waste. Without humans in their way, Florida turtles may be poised to have an exceptionally successful breeding year, reports Richard Luscombe for the Guardian. Just two weeks into the turtles’ typical nesting season, researchers at the Loggerhead MarineLife Center in Juno Beach have already noted more than 75 nests on the stretch of shore they monitor—a significant increase over last year’s figures.
Because the turtles’ spawning period, which lasts well into the summer, has only barely begun, such reports remain preliminary—but experts seem optimistic.
“Our leatherbacks are coming in strong this year,” Sarah Hirsch, the senior manager of research and data at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, tells Kristen Chapman at West Palm Beach news channel 12. “We’re excited to see our turtles thrive in this environment.”
Leatherbacks, the largest sea turtles ..read more: