Almost 100 critically endangered sea turtles hatched on a deserted beach in Brazil as the country’s coronavirus restrictions prohibit people from gathering on the shore.
Ninety-seven hawksbill sea turtles hatched last Sunday in Paulista, a town in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco.
Government workers were the only people to see the sea turtles emerge. They took photographs of the new-born creatures’ first steps down to the beach and into the Atlantic Ocean.
Local residents have been banned from gathering on Pernambuco’s beaches since last weekend when Paulo Câmara, the state governor, ordered a partial shutdown because of Covid-19.
He urged people to stay indoors to slow the spread of the virus.
Câmara told the Guardian last week that extreme measures were needed in order for Brazil to avoid a crisis on the scale of the one that has taken hold in Europe.
“Only isolation will stop the curve growing at the speed it is growing in other places,” he said.
Câmara said Pernambuco’s government was racing against time to make hospital beds available for patients.
“All of our efforts are now geared towards delaying its profileration… when this curve grows, and it will grow, we are as ready as we possibly can be to care for people,” he said.
Pernambuco, which has a population of nine million, has recorded five Covid-19 deaths and more than 60 cases of the virus.
Câmara said he hoped the coronavirus restrictions could eventually be relaxed in his state – but added that they are necessary at the moment.
They can grow up to 110cm in length, weigh 85kg and owe their Portuguese name, which translates as “comb turtles”, to the fact that their shells were once widely used to make combs and frames for glasses.
The turtle’s English name comes from its narrow, pointed beak, according to the WWF.
Paulista’s environmental secretary, Roberto Couto, said the town was home to four of the five types of turtle found along Brazil’s coastline: the hawksbill, the green sea turtle, the olive ridley turtle and the loggerhead turtle. More than 300 turtles have hatched there this year.