Chatuporn Buruspat, the Marine and Coastal Resources Department director-general, said on Sunday that officials had successfully released 40 baby turtles to the sea on Takua Pa district’s Khuk Khan beach at 7.30pm on Saturday evening.
Four other baby turtles are being tended to by officials to make sure they are healthy enough for their voyage into the unknown, the official added. Seven others died shortly after hatching.
The baby turtles were born in one of three nests found in this southern province – the first time for five years that turtles returned to lay eggs here.
The first nest was found on Dec 17. More turtles returned to lay eggs on Thai Muang beach on Dec 26.
The first nest produced 48 baby turtles, and the second another 35.
Departmental authorities set up teams to monitor the turtles after the first nest was found in December.
They watered and used coconut leaves to shade the third nest after the first baby hatched at 11am on Saturday, but succumbed to the daytime heat.
A total of 127 baby turtles have now hatched successfully, including four under care at a marine biological centre.
Leatherback turtles are named for their shells – softer than most other turtles – and are the largest sea turtle species. They are also one of the most migratory, and sometimes cross both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. They are classed as a ‘vulnerable’ species with a declining population.
Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine scientist at Kasetsart University, on Saturday used his Facebook page to urge the public to safeguard the marine environment by keeping the beaches and the sea clean so that leatherback turtles will return to lay eggs again.
“We have to teach our children to do that because when they grow up, they could see baby leatherback turtles again,” he wrote.