Sea turtle nesting season has begun, and wildlife officials are regularly checking the shores for new nests.
Texas officials shared some “egg-citing” news about a nest from the most endangered sea turtle that hasn’t appeared on the beach since 2012.
Tucked in the dunes of the Galveston Island State Park was a Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle nest filled with 107 eggs. Sea Aggie Sea Turtle Patrol discovered the nest on Thursday during a routine survey of the beach.
The recent nest is only the third Kemp’s Ridley nest found at the park since the Turtle Patrol began keeping records.
“The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle is one of the most endangered sea turtle species in the world so every egg matters,” said Dr. Christopher Marshall, Professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston and Director for the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research in a press release. “A lot of nesting habitat for the Kemp’s Ridley has been lost to storms, high tide and predation, which is why it is important to transport these nests to an environment where they have the best chance for survival into adulthood.”
According to the news release, the eggs were carefully transported by The Turtle Patrol and the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research to an incubation facility at Padre Island National Seashore.
Marshall shared, “If the nest were to be left on the beach, the eggs would have about a 45 percent chance of survival. In the incubation facility, survival rates can be up to 95 percent.”
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are named after Richard M. Kemp, a fisherman from Key West, Florida, who first encountered them in 1906. They are the smallest sea turtle and face many threats like bycatch in fishing gear, loss of nesting habitat, direct harvest of eggs, and ocean pollution.
These unique sea turtles nest during the day and their eggs incubate for 50-60 days before the hatchlings make their way into the ocean.
Nesting season runs from April 1 through July 15, so beachgoers are asked to stay at least 60 feet away from a turtle or nest and call the Sea Turtle hotline at 1-866-TURTLE-5 if they find a nest.