As reported by The Guardian, the pandemic has significantly slowed down foot traffic on Greek beaches, giving sea turtles the chance to lay their eggs and eventually hatch without being disturbed by careless onlookers. Normally, turtles on Laganas Bay “from warmer waters 100m from the shore to deeper, colder waters, 400m away from the beaches” from May to June, which is their breeding season. However, thanks to the isolation the pandemic has offered, the turtles enjoyed the warm shallow waters even as deep waters warmed.
The Queen Mary University of London study found that tourists, not temperature, were forcing turtles offshore into deep waters, “potentially at the cost of [turtles] losing access to optimal thermal conditions that accelerate egg maturation and shorten inter-nesting intervals.”
In the Mediterranean island of Zakynthos, 2020 saw 1,800 nests on the beaches. It is the third-highest recorded number in 30 years. However, Gail Schofield, an author of the study and a wildlife ecological researcher, acknowledges that proving the connection between tourism and turtle nests is difficult.
Similar to other beach destinations, Zakynthos attracts many young tourists who don’t know the regulations surrounding turtle hatching or may not even be aware of the nesting entirely. The island’s national marine park coordinator, Laurent Sourbes, says the only way to fix the issue is to begin fining. However, resources are needed to go forward with this plan.
Sign this petition and help save Hawksbill sea turtles
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