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Public Asked To Report Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles on Texas Coast
NORTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are returning to the Texas coast to nest, and scientists are asking beach-goers to report turtle sightings, while also extending an invitation for visitors to witness releases of captive-raised turtle hatchlings crawling toward the sea.
As of May 1, 19 Kemp’s ridley nests had been located on the Texas coast during 2007, including 11 at Padre Island National Seashore, 2 on North Padre Island, 3 on South Padre Island, 1 at Boca Chica Beach, 1 on Matagorda Island, and 1 on Galveston Island.
The recent run of sea turtle sightings signals the arrival of peak turtle nesting season in Texas in May and June. The news for the ridley is mostly good—more of these turtles continue to nest on Texas beaches than in past years, including some who were reared in captivity and released years ago and are now returning to nest as adults.
However, the ridley remains on the endangered species list, and its populations are still vulnerable to natural disasters and human development and activity. A network of government and university scientists and volunteers is helping to track sea turtle nesting and support conservation and research efforts.
For the past several years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has worked with a host of other agencies including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Gladys Porter Zoo, University of Texas, officials in Mexico and others to restore the Kemp’s ridley.
To protect as many sea turtles as possible, the Padre Island National Seashore incubates most of the sea turtle eggs found along the Texas coast and releases the hatchlings into the Gulf of Mexico.
People are encouraged to report sea turtle sightings on Texas beaches by phoning toll free (866) TURTLE5. The public can also witness sea turtle hatchling releases at the national seashore on certain dates mid-June through August. The releases usually take place around 6:45 a.m. and are free to attend—see the national seashore sea turtle Web pages for details. General information about ridley turtles is also on the TPWD Web site.
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