Sea turtle nest

Submitted by Justin Williams

During the middle of May, a good friend, Bill Hendrix, and I headed out to Padre Island National Seashore for a few days of fishing and relaxation. On the second day of our trip, May 15, we had spent many hours fishing near the Mansfield Jetty when we decided to call it for the day and head back to camp.

Just a few hundred yards into our drive north, I glanced out my window and was astounded to see a full-grown Kemp's ridley sea turtle sitting on the sand staring at me. After a brief moment for what we were seeing to register, I backed my truck away some distance so as not to bother the turtle. After eyeing us suspiciously for a minute, she proceeded on her way up the beach to the soft sand where she commenced to digging a nest. 

Once we were certain she was in the process of laying her eggs, we came closer to her and watched as she finished laying her clutch of eggs then began to cover the eggs and pack the sand down over them.

About this time in the distance we begin to see the headlights from one of the ATVs used by the turtle patrollers searching the seashore for nesting turtles. Bill and I both began waving and pointing to the turtle and the patroller arrived just as the mother turtle finished covering up the nest. She quickly checked the turtle for tags and upon not finding any, enlisted our help to measure and tag the turtle. Upon completion, a few quick photos were taken and the turtle was on her way back to the water. 

The patroller was fast, efficient, was providing us with information about what we were doing and why, answered each and every one of our questions during this process, and thanked us over and over for our help. It was very refreshing to see someone who obviously LOVES their job so much perform it.

The following day we found out that the nest contained 110 eggs which were taken from the nest to a protected location further up the Seashore for incubation.

This was an amazing, awe-inspiring experience. Knowing that the Kemp’s ridley is the most endangered sea turtle on the planet and having just seen such a sight, I left the National Seashore with a sense of gratitude and satisfaction. Here was an animal on the brink of extinction and, while a long way from being recovered, through the hard work of a lot of dedicated individuals and organizations, is making a comeback. I had just seen proof with my own eyes that we can make a difference for the better when we set our minds and hearts to the task.

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