PHANG NGA — A rare sea turtle laid about 100 eggs on a Thai beach fewer than 10 days after another did so at another beach for the first time in five years.
Marine officials are rejoicing at what they hope is a trend: leatherback sea turtles returning to the beaches of Phang Nga province to lay their eggs. Now they’re moving to safeguard them from egg thieves by setting up a video feed.
“Finding leatherback turtles is a lucky sign that natural resources are recovering,” Jatuporn Burutpat, marine department director, said Thursday. “They are one of the hardest animals to find, and one that we give up hope looking for that has a worrying tendency to go extinct.”
On Dec. 17, a leatherback sea turtle laid 93 eggs on a Thai beach for the first time since 2013. According to Jatuporn, a meter-deep hole containing a second clutch of up to 100 eggs appeared Wednesday morning at Tai Muang Beach, about 30 kilometers from from the first at Khuk Khak Beach.
Marine officials fenced off both to prevent the public – and possible thieves, including other animals – from disturbing the gestating eggs. There are now six CCTVs monitoring the two clutches.
Jatuporn urged people at the beaches to pick up trash, especially plastic bags, which sea turtles mistake for jellyfish. He said that after the 2004 tsunami, leatherback turtle sightings on Thai beaches sharply decreased, though they have not been registered as a protected species yet.
“Leatherback turtles are still waiting in the queue to become a protected animal,” he said. “So I’d like citizens to help keep an eye on the eggs.”
Anyone can watch and help monitor the eggs until they hatch in about two months, at the marine department’s Love Sea Turtles page.
Kasetsart University professor Thon Thamrongnawasawat, who alerted the public to the first clutch 10 days ago, expressed his excitement about the Turtle Cam on Facebook.
“I’ve never seen anywhere set up this kind of viewing for turtle eggs,” Thon wrote. “It’s cool. It’s awesome. The more I watch, the more awesome it gets.”
According to the IUCN Red List, leatherback sea turtles are considered a vulnerable species.
See any mischief on the turtle cam? Contact the Department of Marine and Coastal Resource’s Phuket branch at 076-391-128 to alert them.