Leatherback turtle surprises Thai park officers with fifth nest of the season

Picture courtesy of Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Mueang National Park

A rare spectacle unfolded early this morning at the Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Mueang National Park in Thai Muang, Phang Nga, situated north of Phuket. Park officials stumbled upon a female leatherback turtle who had come ashore to deposit her eggs, marking the fifth such nest spotted this breeding season.

Officers were engaged in their routine patrol, skimming the shoreline with a drone in search of sea turtles looking to lay their eggs. The eagle-eyed drone spotted the graceful creature at 1.29am yesterday. This spectacular occurrence took place about 500 metres north of the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre, an approximate midpoint of the 13-kilometre beach.

The sheer size of the turtle left the officers in awe, compelling them to lovingly nickname her Mae Lampi, or Mother Lampi. They deemed her visit to the beach a delightful new year’s gift.

Mother Lampi’s shell measured an impressive 105 centimetres in width and 180 centimetres in length. A distinctive pattern on her left flipper unequivocally identified her as a leatherback turtle, reported The Phuket News.

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The officers’ search led them to the nest, nestled in the sand and measuring 80 centimetres deep and 27 centimetres wide. Inside the nest, they discovered a total of 120 eggs, 78 of which were fertilised, while the remaining 42 were found to be hollow.

Due to the proximity of the nest to the sea and the imminent danger of flooding, the officers decided to relocate the eggs. They carefully moved them to a safer location beyond the highest tide line, near the tourist service centre. This area also serves as the park officers’ base of operations.

The national park’s officials and dedicated volunteers are now on a vigilant watch, safeguarding the nest from natural predators and potential human interference. The eggs are predicted to hatch somewhere between February 25 and March 1, offering a promising start to the new year for the leatherback turtle population.

Phuket News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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