(TMU) — Wildlife all over the globe where movements of humans have been restricted due to the novel coronavirus pandemic seems to be thriving and returning to spaces they were unable to visit due to human activity. Great news for the leatherback sea turtles who favor Juno Beach in Florida for nesting, thought to be the most densely nested beach in the world.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Florida monitors the beach every year to make sure the nests remain undisturbed by people and dogs. Disturbing the nests can have fatal results for the eggs if they are exposed to the hot summer weather and potentially reach deadly temperatures.
Although still early in the season, the center has already counted 69 nests with numbers significantly higher than normal, according to a CBS Miami report. The majority of the nests are from leatherbacks, the largest living sea turtles and classed as vulnerable by the WWF.
Sarah Hirsch, the senior manager of research and data at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, told WPEC News:
‘’Our leatherbacks are coming in strong this year. It’s going to be a really good year for our leatherbacks.
We’re excited to see our turtles thrive in this environment. Our world has changed, but these turtles have been doing this for millions of years and it’s just reassuring and gives us hope that the world is still going on.’’
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Each night during sea turtle nesting season, a team of our researchers patrol our 9.5-mile stretch of beach for nesting sea turtles. This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Leatherback Project! Our researchers are documenting injuries on all of our nesting turtles for a larger research study. So far this season our beaches have a total of 79 nests, 76 leatherbacks and 3 loggerheads! Learn more about our research studies and The Leatherback Project at marinelife.org/leatherback-aussie - #seaturtles #loggerheadmarinelifecenter #research #leatherback #endangeredspecies #jupiterfl #junobeach #goodnewsnetwork #somegoodnews
Overall, the lack of boats and their human handlers seems to have been of benefit to the marine life in general and Hirsch said the sea turtles are now mating close to the shore, near the surface of the water.
Researchers are optimistic for the sea turtles since the season has just started and the Loggerhead Marinelife Center will continue to collect data to see how the marine life is affected throughout the season, which ends on October 31.
The loggerhead turtles and the rest of the marine life will probably be very happy to enjoy the peace at Juno Beach for a good while longer.
According to the WWF website, turtle populations have been in decline for the past 20 years. Pacific populations from over-harvesting and interactions with fisheries. Atlantic leatherbacks feed almost exclusively on jellyfish and many die from swallowing floating plastic bags by mistake and their long migrations put them at risk of running into longline fisheries. Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles are caught in shrimp trawl nets, longline hooks, and fishing gill nets and then drown because they can’t reach the surface to breathe.
Beaches are crucial to turtles for nesting. Rising sea levels and mostly unchecked human activities such as vehicle traffic on beaches, uncontrolled developments, and other activities have either directly destroyed or disturbed sea turtle nesting beaches around the world as well as their feeding grounds, the sea grass beds, and coral reefs.
The final blow for many wildlife species is over-harvesting and illegal trade.
Legal egg collection in Southeast Asia leads to tens of thousands of eggs being lost. This cultural practice led to the local extinction of leatherbacks in Malaysia while Indonesia’s turtle population has suffered massive decline in the region due to uncontrolled egg collecting and the killing of adult turtles over several decades. In Central America, in spite of protective legislation, eggs are still collected for subsistence or commercial use. Hunting and egg collection continue throughout the Indian Ocean as well.
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