Thailand is seeing a record number of baby leatherback sea turtles hatching as popular tourist beaches in the country's south remain undisturbed amidst restrictions due to coronavirus.
Director of Phuket Marine Biological Center, Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, told Reuters over the phone that since November, they have found 11 nests, the highest number in 20 years.
In late March, staff at a national park in Phanga Nga province found 84 hatchlings after monitoring eggs for two months.
The leatherback turtle lays its eggs in dark areas without movement, which were rare when tourists enjoyed the beaches. People also take the eggs for consumption.
"If we compare to the year before, we didn't have this much spawn because turtles have a high risk of getting killed by fishing gear and human disturbing the beach," he said adding that no nests were found the last five years.
Tourist numbers have dwindled in Thailand, dropping nearly 50% in February as countries imposed travel restrictions and a nationwide curfew was instated between 10pm and 4am.
This has allowed the leatherback turtle to come ashore and lay eggs safely.
Thailand, which has reported a total 2,765 cases and 47 fatalities, has banned commercial passenger flights to the country until the end of April.