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Stay-at-Home Order Helped Marine Life Thrive, Scientists Say

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Marine life is thriving since COVID-19 swept the globe, and experts say a halt on travel and traffic has proved to be a big contributor.

The coronavirus pandemic has become an unintentional experiment for scientists here in San Diego, and across the globe. Researchers hope their discoveries encourage others to take a second look at marine conservation.

“It only took a few weeks to start getting the first observations," Scripps Institute of Oceanography ecologist Stuart Sandin said. "Our behavior can influence the way the natural world responds.”

Sandin recently hosted a live panel with a group of scientists sharing their latest findings.

“The changes for the ocean have in fact been quite dramatic," one researcher said. "When there are fewer people on the beach, it’s generally good for sea turtles.”

Scripps alum and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir is also seeing positive changes, but from a different view.

"it was a unique perspective I had from the space station," she explained.

Meir returned to earth in April after spending 7 months in space.

"When we landed we truly returned to a different planet. From that moment we had to adapt to life back on earth," she said.

Researchers say the changes they're seeing now are temporary, which is why they are looking ahead.

“We can make strategic decisions on how we rebuild, what we turn back on and how we may move particular industries or use patterns," Sandin said.

Panel scientists said change can start at the local level, and they're encouraging people to consider the environment as we continue to reopen the economy.

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