For Immediate Release, March 27, 2020

Contact: Joanie Steinhaus, 512-417-7741, 

COVID-19 Delays Sea Turtle Nest Patrols on Upper Texas Coast

GALVESTON, Texas — To ensure the safety of volunteers and staff, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Texas A&M University at Galveston are delaying the start of sea turtle patrol on the upper Texas coast until May 1. The decision, which will be reevaluated every two weeks to determine a safe start date for nest patrols, comes as endangered sea turtles begin to nest amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“Turtle Island has been part of the sea turtle nest patrol on the upper Texas coast since its inception in 2002, and we will continue to work to support the protection of nesting sea turtles and their eggs,” said Joanie Steinahus, Turtle Island Restoration Network’s gulf program director.

Three sea turtle species – the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead and green – return to upper Texas coast beaches from April 1 to July 15 each year to lay their nests. With the help of hundreds of volunteers who patrol beaches, nests are located and the eggs are excavated and transferred to Padre Island National Seashore for incubation and release. In addition to looking for evidence of nesting turtles, nest patrol volunteers often find stranded turtles, and injured birds, dolphins, and other coastal wildlife.

As Texas beaches remain open, Turtle Island Restoration Network asks residents to call the Texas sea turtle hotline, 1-866-TURTLE-5 (1-866-887-8535), if they see a sea turtle, a nest, or tracks on the beach. Turtle Island Restoration Network has sponsored the 1-866-TURTLE-5 sea turtle hotline for the Texas coast for more than ten years, and continues to raise awareness of the need to report any nesting, injured or deceased sea turtle to the hotline along the entire Texas coast.

Turtle Island Restoration Network is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and restore populations of endangered sea turtles and marine biodiversity on the Texas coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Learn more at