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First Texas Nesting of Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Reported

Nesting sea turtle reported by tourists from Vermont
Last week, the year’s first nesting of a Kemp’s ridley was reported at Padre Island, Texas. Biologists and environmentalists are hoping that this year’s nesting numbers will surpass last year’s numbers, but it is too early to tell. Beachgoers are asked to contribute to this effort by calling a toll-free number to report any turtle sightings or nests along the Texas coast.

Tourists from Vermont spotted a Kemp’s ridley crawling on the beach at the Padre Island National Seashore on Wednesday morning, April 9. The turtle laid 94 eggs and was fitted with a transmitter for tracking before being returned to the Gulf of Mexico. This first confirmed Kemp’s ridley nest laid in the United States during 2003 was one of only 162 hatchlings brought from Mexico in 1993 and raised at the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory in Galveston, Texas, for nearly a year before its release off Mustang Island in 1994.

“The nesting season of the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles is off to an excellent start,” according to sea turtle project director Dr. Donna Shaver-Miller of USGS.

The 94 eggs were collected from the nest site and transported to the incubation facility at Padre Island National Seashore. The hatchlings will probably be ready for release sometime between May 28 and June 4. In 2002, the first nest was found only a day before on April 8 and was the beginning of the best season ever for Kemp’s ridley nestings in the United States with a total of 38 being found.

“The public can play an important role in helping protect the turtles, simply by making a toll-free call,” said Carole Allen of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project.

Beachgoers to all Texas beaches are reminded to call 1-866-TURTLE5 if a nesting sea turtle is sighted. The toll free number is provided by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project and is manned by personnel from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Park Service, the University of Texas system, the Gladys Porter Zoo, US Geological Survey and US Fish and Wildlife Service.