Endangered Species Day 2020

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Endangered Species Day 2020

This Friday we are celebrating the 15th annual Endangered Species Day to raise awareness and educate people on the current struggles wildlife faces today. Here on Koh Tao we are lucky to host and protect a number of endangered species. But recently we had some amazing news from a neighbouring island which has come just in time to truly celebrate the day…

So what exactly is ‘an endangered species?’

This can be defined as a species at risk of extinction because of human activity, changes in climate, changes in predator-prey ratios, etc. Unfortunately a huge percentage of animals and plants are considered endangered and more than 31 000 species are threatened with extinction, that is nearly 27% of all assessed life in the world! Of these a few species that divers can come across here on our island are Hawksbill turtles (critically endangered) Whalesharks (endangered) and the source of recent good news Green Turtles (endangered).

On the 13th of February turtle tracks were discovered on a secluded beach in front of the Banyan Tree Hotel in Koh Samui. The tracks led to a nest, an incredibly rare and exciting discovery. What’s even better is that the mother returned a following night and laid a second clutch of eggs.

Both nests were immediately covered by an enclosure to protect them from predators and tourists by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. The nests were monitored regularly to ensure conditions remained optimal for their survival resulting in one nest being relocated to higher ground for fear of being flooded by the tide.

“We were very excited to find the clutch of eggs, but quickly realized that this was a precarious situation,”

Thepsuda Loyjiw, Marine Biologist for the Banyan Tree Hotel.

More nests have since been discovered and staff patiently waited for the first group of baby turtles to show themselves. Green Turtles have a gestation period between 45 to 60 days so staff were ready to prepare the beaches for the turtles most crucial journey to adulthood, getting to the water.

A nest of newly hatched Turtles heading to the ocean for the first time

On the 4th of April the first nest began to wriggle with life and the newborns were guided to the waters edge. Two more nests also hatched under the watchful eye of the Loyjiw and her team. Watch the video of the first nest of hatchlings making their way to the water here…


So why are these nests so important to the turtles of Thailand? Well let’s put this into a mathematical perspective…

Population studies have observed that within a nest only 80% of the eggs will actually hatch.

Of those hatchlings 50% will manage to make it down the beach to the water.

Of the beach survivors 50% will avoid predators and start to grow towards adulthood

But only 10% of those juveniles will reach sexual maturity.

Green Turtle
Green Turtle

These shocking statistics show just how vital these nests are to the survival of the species. Every turtle you see is a demonstration of determination, strength and quite a lot of luck. Which is exactly why we love to see them cruising around our reefs during a dive.

If you are fortunate enough to see one then please take a photo of the left and right side of its face so it can be identified and monitored by the islands monitoring team, Koh Tao Turtles. By providing photo identification, individual animals are tracked and monitored further improving conservation efforts.

Have you ever been lucky enough to dive with one of these endangered animals? Let us know in the comments.

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