Environment

Baby turtles boom back from extinction after lockdown sees drop in hunting and pollution

The Olive Ridley turtle population had seen a decline of up to 50% in recent decades

Remember hearing the birds sing for the first time in forever or inhaling clean air without petrol fumes snaking their way up your nose during lockdown number one?

Well, it seems the Covid-19 crisis is having an unprecedented impact on our global environment too with endangered baby sea turtles booming back into existence.

On a beach in Mexico, the sight of these turtles hatching stunned locals as the adorable little creatures doubled in numbers after limited interference from humans during the pandemic.

[Credit: El Imparcial]

Ordinarily, thousands of females come ashore to lay eggs in the same spot every year with just 500 to 1,000 babies making it into the ocean, yet on this occasion over 2,250 Olive Ridley sea turtles waddled their way into the waters of El Desemboque, a town in Sonora.

It is believed the turtles had a better fighting chance from birth thanks to the decrease in ocean pollution, vessel strikes, hunting and entanglement that usually put them at risk.

Speaking about the miracle, an organiser of the turtle rescue programme and member of the Comcaac tribe, Mayra Estrella Astorga, says even more turtles may hatch soon.

[Credit: El Imparcial]

Mayra explained: “The pandemic brought sickness and death to our people; and complicated the economic situation here.

“That’s why we are so happy that, in the middle of this tragedy, this miracle of nature happened as a result of fewer fishing boats and tourists, but also through the efforts of the community.”

She added to Arizona Public Media: “You could say this has been the worst year of my life, and in another way the best. This is the work I love to do, and it was a great success this year.”

[Credit: El Imparcial]

The Olive Ridley population, which has declined up to 50% in recent decades, are famed for their olive-green top shells and for ‘arribada’ (meaning, ‘arrival by sea’) nesting.

Once the mother turtle lays her eggs, she returns to the sea and leaves the babies to fend for themselves and make their own way to the ocean once hatched.

Other environmental factors to be positively impacted by the events of this year, include a significant reduction in climate change emissions.

The first half of 2020 saw an unprecedented decline in carbon dioxide emissions ­– larger than during the financial crisis of 2008, the oil crisis of the 1979, or even World War II.

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