Lifestyle Pets Endangered Sea Turtles Have Space to 'Thrive' on Nesting Beaches Temporarily Closed to Humans Animal experts said it is "reassuring" to see the positive impact on wildlife amid the pandemic By Benjamin VanHoose Benjamin VanHoose Twitter Benjamin VanHoose is an Associate Editor on the Movies team at PEOPLE. He's worked at PEOPLE for over three years as a writer and reporter across our Entertainment, Lifestyle and News teams, covering everything from the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial to the Oscars. He regularly covers red carpet events and has interviewed stars like Drew Barrymore, Ryan Reynolds and Kirsten Dunst. He previously worked as a copy editor at Topix Media Lab. People Editorial Guidelines Published on April 21, 2020 02:53 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Mark Conlin/VW PICS/UIG via Getty Fewer beachgoers mean more stability for endangered sea turtles, experts say. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Florida, has noticed an upside amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, at least for the marine animals that nest on the local beaches. Since the sandy spaces are closed to humans to help reduce the spread of the virus, the sea turtles’ eggs are largely undisturbed. Leatherback sea turtles, in particular, are “coming in strong this year,” Sarah Hirsch, senior manager of research and data at the center, told WPEC. “We’re excited to see our turtles thrive in this environment,” Hirsch said. “Our world has changed but these turtles have been doing this for millions of years, and it’s just reassuring and gives us hope that the world is still going on.” Nearly all seven species of sea turtles are endangered, according to the World Wildlife Foundation, which attributes the animals’ decline to “human activities.” Another negative factor removed from the equation for wildlife in the absence of humans is a reduction in litter, David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, told CBS News. The Amazing Ways Animals and the Environment Have Bounced Back amid Coronavirus Pandemic Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories “All of the reduced human presence on the beach also means that there will be less garbage and other plastics entering the marine environment,” said Godfrey. “Ingestion and entanglement in plastic and marine debris also are leading causes of injury to sea turtles.” The season for sea turtle nesting and hatching is from March 1 to Oct. 31, CBS News reported, and since many beaches are darker due to closures, the hatching process will likely be more opportune. “We expect that thousands of hatchlings that ordinarily would be disoriented by lights this nesting season will not be and are more likely to survive to reach the sea,” said Godfrey. RELATED VIDEO: Baby Otters Venture Outside for First Time at Chester Zoo Bear Sightings in Yosemite Have ‘Quadrupled’ Since Park Closed to Tourists Due to Coronavirus While animals have had free rein on certain outdoor areas during pandemic closures, some states are nearing steps to reopen the spaces while maintaining social distance measures. Florida beaches began to reopen on Friday, with crowds of people heading to the shores minutes after the beaches reopened. Other nature spaces have seen thriving outcomes for animals since they’ve closed to humans, including an increase in bear sightings in Yosemite National Park, where tourists are temporarily barred, and lions “enjoying the freedom” to roam at a park in South Africa. As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.