Call it a turtle tsunami!

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released an amazing video showing tens of thousands of Giant South American River turtle hatchlings (Podocnemis expansa) emerging from a sandy beach in a protected area along the Purus River – a tributary of the Amazon River in Brazil.

WCS Brazil conservationists say the emergence occurred over several days. Approximately 71,000 hatchlings emerged on one day alone, followed by another 21,000 a few days later.

The mass emergence took place in the Reserva Biológica do Abufari (Abufari Biological Reserve), where WCS Brazil conservationists have been monitoring adult females and their nests before, during, and after the birth of the hatchlings. WCS is studying the conditions for mass hatchlings to help improve management and protection of this endangered species, which has been impacted by trafficking of their meat and eggs.

Said Camila Ferrara, Aquatic Turtle Specialist for WCS’s Brazil: “For the giant South America river turtle, birth is an explosion of life, but also it is most fragile phase. In some areas, hatchlings use mass birth to increase their survival. The synchronization of birth allows them to travel together to the river to start a new journey.”

The conservation work is part of a project led by WCS Brazil in partnership with ICMBIO and are sponsored by Fundação o Boticário.

The Giant South American river turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in Latin America, reaching lengths of three and a half feet (1.07 meters) and weights of 200 pounds (90 kg). The turtles play an important ecological role by dispersing seeds that eventually help regenerate vegetation along river corridors.