Endangered Turtles Hatch On Beach Deserted Due To Covid-19

Endangered Turtles Hatch On Beach Deserted Due To Covid-19

Nearly 100 endangered sea turtles have hatched on a Brazilian beach left deserted due to people staying in and self-isolating.

The shoreline in Paulista, a town in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, Brazil, is usually packed with beachgoers who are able to witness the incredible moment the baby turtles crack their way out of their eggs.

This year it was a very different scene however, as state governor Paulo Câmara ordered a partial shutdown in the area last week, urging residents to stay indoors and restricting them from gathering on beaches.

Quiet Brazilian beach

On March 22, 97 hawksbill sea turtles broke free from their shells and took their first cautious steps towards the Atlantic ocean, with almost no one around to witness the scene.

The only people there were government workers, who managed to snap pictures of the baby turtles as they made their way down the beach.

A statement from City Hall of Paulista says the hatching of the eggs and the first contact of the animals with the water was only possible thanks to monitoring work carried out by technicians of the Urban Sustainability Center.

Hawksbill sea turtles are considered a critically endangered species by the WWF. Brazil’s Tamar conservation project contributes to the restoration of the species, as well as the restorations of the olive ridley sea turtle, the loggerhead sea turtle and the leatherback sea turtle.

Endangered seat turtles making their way to the ocean

Hawksbills can grow up to 110cm and can weigh 85kg (187lbs). They are said to be strongly associated with coral reef areas, and often suffer as a result of human actions, as they can be caught accidentally in ghost nets or gillnets left for hours to catch fish.

After hatching, the turtles are at risk of being snatched by birds or crushed by beachgoers, though the latter of those threats was minimised thanks to the recent restrictions.

Speaking about the exciting sighting, Herbert Andrade, Environmental Manager at Paulista, said:

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.

The four species of turtle protected by the Tamar conservation project can all be found along Brazil’s coastline.

Paulista’s environmental secretary, Roberto Couto, said the animals normally lay their eggs from January each year before the hatchlings emerge in April or May, The Guardian reports.

He commented:

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.

Hawksbill sea turtle

According to the WWF, sea turtles are the ‘living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years.’

The animals are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds.

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