Record numbers of an endangered turtle species have hatched in Mexico this year — thanks to reduced human activity during the pandemic and dedicated efforts of an Indigenous conservation group, local media reports.
Tortugueros del Desemboque, a conversation group among the Comcáac (often known as the Seri) people in the Mexican state of Sonora, released over 2,250 baby Olive Ridley sea turtles into the Gulf of California this year. Usually 500 to 1,000 are released.
In addition to aiding a species that is under threat globally, bringing the thousands of green, heart-shelled sea turtles to their ocean home was healing for the region.
"This year has been one of the hardest for our community. The pandemic brought sickness and death to our people, and complicated the economic situation here," group coordinator Mayra Estrella Astorga told Arizona Public Media.
"That’s why we are so happy that, in the middle of this tragedy, this miracle of nature happened — as a result of fewer fishing boats and tourists, but also through the efforts of the community."
The Olive Ridley is the most abundant sea turtle in the the world — mostly found in tropical areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans — but it is also facing a high risk of extinction. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List, the species has seen a 30 to 50 percent reduction of global population size in recent decades.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles in Mexico: Record number hatch