Sea turtles have hatched on a beach deserted due to COVID-19 quarantine

Dozens of endangered sea turtles have hatched on a beach in Brazil being deserted due to the coronavirus quarantine.

Usually, the beaches in Paulista, Brazil, are filled with people witnessing the magical scene where baby turtles are being born. Sadly, this year the access to the coastline was forbidden by state governor Paulo Câmara. He ordered a partial shutdown in the area. Residents are being urged to stay home in an attempt to block the spread of the virus.

Image credits: Paulista City Hall

Nearly a hundred baby hawksbill sea turtles broke free from their shells and took their very first steps on March 22.

Unfortunately, there was almost no one around to witness this incredible moment. Only a few government workers were lucky enough to be at the beach and capture the baby turtles making their way to the sea.

In a statement, the City Hall of Paulista says that the hatching of the eggs and the first contact of the animals with the ocean was only possible thanks to monitoring work carried out by technicians of the Urban Sustainability Center.

Image credits: Paulista City Hall

The WWF considers hawksbill sea turtles as a critically endangered species.

Thankfully, Brazil’s Tamar conservation project works for the restoration of the species. Additionally, the project contributes to the restorations of the olive ridley sea turtle, the loggerhead sea turtle, and the leatherback sea turtle. All four species of turtle protected by the Tamar conservation project can be found along Brazil’s coastline.

What’s unique about the hawksbills is that they can grow up to 110cm (about 43in) and can weigh 85kg (187lbs). They are strongly connected with coral reef areas. Sadly, these sea turtles often become victims of human actions, as they can be caught accidentally in ghost nets or gillnets left for hours to catch fish. They are also in great danger of being snatched by birds or crushed by beachgoers after hatching. However, due to the recent lockdown regime, those threats are minimized.

Herbert Andrade, Environmental Manager at Paulista, shares:

“In all, 291 sea turtles were born on the coast of Paulista in 2020, with 87 green turtles and 204 hawksbill turtles. This time, due to preventive measures against the new coronavirus, the population was unable to closely monitor the birth.”

Image credits: Paulista City Hall

According to The Guardian, Paulista’s environmental secretary, Roberto Couto, said the turtles usually lay their eggs from January each year, before the hatchlings emerge in April or May. He added:

“It’s really beautiful because you can see the exact instant they come out of the eggs and… watch their little march across the beach. It’s marvellous. It’s a wonderful, extraordinary feeling. This time, because of coronavirus, we couldn’t even tell people it was happening.”

WWF believes that sea turtles are the ‘living representatives’ of reptiles that have existed on Earth and traveled our seas for the last 100 million years.

This proves these creatures are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems. They are also amazing for maintaining the health of coral reefs and seagrass beds.

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