Oahu beach has first green sea turtle hatchlings

COVID-19 mulled as reason for nests

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaiian green sea turtle hatchlings appeared for the first time on an Oahu beach owned by the U.S. military, which wildlife experts believe may be partly a result of the coronavirus.

Experts said there have never before been hatched eggs from the threatened turtle species on U.S. Marine Corps Base Hawaii Training Area Bellows Beach, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The 3-inch hatchlings emerged from the white sand and headed toward the sea beginning about a month ago and continuing through last week.

Several of the sea turtles hauled themselves onto the beach to nest in April, the first time the behavior was documented there.

Experts could not conclusively say why the mother turtles used the milelong expanse for the first time, but suspect the nesting occurred because the beach was empty due to state health restrictions.

“Initial nesting seemed to occur before we had a lot of recreation (return to) the beach when the public came back in May,” said Lt. Col. Tim Pochop, director for environmental compliance and protection at Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay.

Conservationists identified 15 nests and placed ropes around them to prevent the eggs from being disturbed.