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Galveston City Council Votes to Keep Kemp’s Ridley Eggs on the Island!

The Galveston (Texas) City Council spoke up for retaining the eggs of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that are laid along the Upper Texas coast in Galveston at their Friday, March 29 meeting. Since the endangered sea turtles began laying eggs on the Upper Texas Coast, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has required the eggs to be moved to the Padre Island National Seashore for incubation and release of the hatchlings. Not only does transferring the eggs some five hours in a vehicle jeopardize their well being and ability to hatch, but the movement may reduce the growth of a nesting population on the Upper Texas Coast.

The resolution was drafted by Turtle Island’s Sea Turtle Restoration Project and adopted by the Galveston City Council to support the project’s efforts to protect the growing breeding population of Kemp’s ridleys on the Upper Texas Coast.

Jerry Mohn, President of the West Galveston Island Property Owners Association, and other community residents attended the City Council meeting in support of the Resolution which quotes the statement of Dr. Andre M. Landry, Jr., long time Kemp’s ridley researcher who stated that “hatchling releases will afford a centerpiece of public education efforts focusing on sea turtles and the role the Upper Texas Coast can play in population recovery.”

“We congratulate the Galveston City Council for passing the Resolution about retaining Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle eggs for hatching and release of hatchlings,” said Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director of Sea Turtle Restoration Project. “The mother turtles select a Galveston beach to lay their eggs and that process is being altered year after year. Obviously, the Galveston community is anxious to change this policy.”
The Sea Turtle Restoration Project has for many years questioned the wisdom of subjecting the fragile sea turtle eggs to a five-hour trip soon after being deposited in a nest on a Galveston or Upper Texas Coast beach. There is little or no scientific support for transferring of eggs when they could be protected in place or at an incubation site within minutes of the nest area. Eleven nests were found on Florida Beaches in 2012 and left to hatch out. Last year, a large number of nests were found in South Texas (59 at South Padre Island and 10 at Boca Chica Beach) with eggs moved only to a protected site nearby and hatchlings released a short distance away.

A copy of the entire resolution will be sent to the US Fish and Wildlife for their consideration of a change of its policy.