Pandemic peace gives new life to threatened Senegalese turtles

Pandemic peace gives new life to threatened Senegalese turtles ...

GUEREO, Senegal, Oct. 16 - In the moonlit shore of Senegal, Djibril Diakhate stopped his evening walk as more than 140 baby turtles clambering and walking towards the glimmering ocean.

After hatching, the barkeeper will use the water, and save the turtles from nesting until they hatch.

I was always touched by the birth of these turtles, he said. "The first time I saw this turtle hatching, I was crying at those creatures of God."

Thousands of turtles lay eggs every year along West Africa's shores, but days like that become rare in Guereo, the beachside village where Diakhate lives.

Senegal's turtles are listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, based on increasing fishing, tourism and construction, and have become less safe nesting grounds. The sea turtles have been declared endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Only two or three turtles have laid their eggs in Guereo in recent years, and dozens have now been to Guereo, Diakhate said.

There were five turtles on Guereo last season compared to two previous years' periods of drought.

The surge was so big that Diakhate had to relocate his restaurant, named the Turtle Nest, after a mother turtle lay their eggs behind the bar.

During the summer of 2020, Saliou Mbodji, president of the nearby Somone Marine Protection Area, attributes the changes to COVID-19 restrictions which halted local fishing and tourism for much of the summer 2020.

"They weren't very crowded at the beaches or hotels," says Mbodji. "The light wasn't very good, so more turtles came to lay their eggs on the beaches."

Since the summer - many days since the holiday, the turtles return to the beach - seven nests were discovered near Guereo this season - half as many as last year.

The scientist at the Oceanium Conservation group provides protection against predators if the nest is caught up in high disease-free conditions, it can be permanently damaged, could researchers say. A dedicated scientist is building a protective cage to protect the nests against predators.

Seaweed and shrimp are the foundation of Oceanium's turtle project.

If these turtles were to disappear, it would create an imbalance between the food chain and threaten the entire ecosystem.

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