Prarop Plangngarn, Chief of Phuket Marine National Park Operation Center 2, explained that officers at the Khao Lampi – Hat Thai Mueang National Park were clearing trash from Thai Mueang Beach on Monday (June 29) when they found turtle tracks on the sand.
Just like the tracks found at Mai Khao on Sunday, the tracks at Thai Mueang Beach measured 170 centimetres across, with the shell drags marks measuring 60cm across.
The nest, some 80cm deep in the sand, was found about 18 metres from the waterline, Mr Prarop said.
Officers finally located the nest at around 10am yesterday (July 1), and excavated only enough sand to confirm there were eggs in the nest, he added.
“We have not counted how many eggs there are, as we are not moving the nest. Officers have placed an enclosure around the nest to protect it from predators and installed a barrier to protect it from waves,” he explained.
“National park officers will arrange staff to monitor the nest until the eggs hatch,” he added.
Mr Prarop noted that finding a turtle nest at this time of year was unusual.
“This leatherback turtle nest was laid out of season. This is the first time since I’ve worked in this field that this has happened,” he said.
Mr Prarop added that he believes that the turtle that laid the nest was the same turtle whose tracks were found on Mai Khao Beach last Sunday.
“Officers found the turtle tracks in the section of Sirinath National Park that is on Mai Khao Beach in Phuket on June 28, and then this nest was found yesterday. I suspect it may be the same leatherback turtle,” he said.
“As for laying eggs at this time of year, that may be because the turtle is very healthy. During this period, there are many jellyfish in the Andaman Sea,” he added.
Mr Prarop noted that the barrier was needed to be installed to protect the nest from the strong waves that pound the shore during the southwest monsoon, which usually continues through to October.
“This nest is at high risk of damage because it was laid during the monsoon. I can’t predict the survival rate of the eggs. We must wait for the eggs to hatch, which should be around Aug 25-30,” he said.