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Endangered Leatherback Turtles Return to Phangnga Beach for 1st Time in 20 Years

Officials from Phangnga's Takua Pa District dig up a leatherback turtle egg hole and move fertile eggs to a more-optimal location.
Officials from Phangnga's Takua Pa District dig up a leatherback turtle egg hole and move fertile eggs to a more-optimal location.

Absent for 20 years, leatherback sea turtles have returned to Bang Sak Beach in Phangnga to lay eggs, another sign of nature’s resurgence during the coronavirus pandemic.

Takua Pa District Chief Akepongsak Wettayawong recently led wildlife officials and administrators to ensure the well-being of the leatherbacks – which are considered endangered in Thailand – after local people reported the return of the long-missing turtles.

The officers located an egg hole and dug up the eggs as the egg hole was located too close to tree roots which can be too cold for eggs to incubate.

Of the 58 eggs found, 36 were deemed to be good and another 22 were unfertilized.

The officers dug a new hole in a more appropriate spot near the original nest and installed a thermometer before burying the eggs again.

Guards have been assigned to secure the hole 24 hours a day.

Rern Hantalay, the local resident who first noted the return of the leatherbacks, said Wednesday that he saw traces of the turtles’ activities when he was going out to fish. He immediately reported the presence of the reptiles to the authorities.

Rern added that as far as he recalls, it has been some 20-30 years since the last time he was aware of sea turtles laying eggs in sandy Bang Sak Beach.