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11 Nests of Rare Sea Turtles Found in Thailand Amid Lockdown

When the cat's away, the mice will play; or in this case, during pandemic lockdown, animals will reclaim the spaces once bustling with human activity.

In Thailand, authorities have found the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades. In an effort to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand has banned international flights and is urging citizens to stay home. This has freed up the beaches for female leatherback sea turtles to lay their eggs in dark and quiet stretches of sand.

No nests of the species, considered vulnerable globally, had been found in Thailand in the past five years. The director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center, Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, said 11 nests have been found since November of last year. Compared to procreation 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," he said. Further, in late March, 84 hatchlings were found at a national park in the southern province of Phang Nga, which borders the Andaman Sea. 

Some interesting tidbits about these creatures include: their hefty size (weighing in at 400 kilograms), their lack of a hard shell, which is replaced by a thick layer of cartilage, their impressive swimming abilities, as they are the fastest swimmers and deepest divers in the turtle community, that they can eat their weight in jellyfish in one day, and that they spend as little as 0.1% of the day resting.

These turtles aren't the only animals thriving in human-free environments. Also in Thailand, a herd of dugong were seen off the coast of Libong Island. The vulnerable species can be seen in aerial images clearly enjoying the lack of tourists in another show of coastal wildlife revival.  

In Vietnam in early April, there were sightings of dolphins swimming off the coasts of the popular beach destinations of Nha Trang and Binh Thuan in what has been described as a "strange," "rare" and "surprising" phenomenon.

Land animals seem to like lockdown, too. In California's Yosemite National Park, officials have described wild bears as "having a party," since the park closed to the public on March 20. On March 26 in Haridwar, India, a herd of wild deer were videoed strolling the streets during the 21-day nationwide lockdown. These are only a few of the many sightings of animals reclaiming urban areas and tourist destinations. 

Check out this video of David Attenborough lounging next to a leatherback sea turtle who is preparing to nest as he discusses the plight of the species in hushed tones. 

[Photo via Pxhere/Image is only for illustration purposes and doesn't depict leatherback turtles.]

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