Safe Waters Needed Year Round at the Padre Island National Seashore.

Houston………Hundreds of Texas science teachers attending the statewide Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST) on October 27-29 are asking for more protection for the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

Teachers from all parts of Texas signed petitions to join the “Give Me Five” campaign which asks for five nautical miles of state waters by the Padre Island National Seashore with no shrimping allowed year round. At present, shrimping is prohibited eight months of the year but opens on July 15 when many Kemp’s ridleys are still present in the area. During the past nesting season, 28 of the 51 Kemp’s ridleys that nested on Texas beaches went to the Padre Island National Seashore. The Turtle Excluder Device regulations allow turtles to escape if the opening in the trawl has not been tied shut which continues to be found frequently by the Coast Guard and Texas law enforcement. In addition, recent research indicates that male Kemp’s ridleys stay in the area of the nesting beach year round.

Teachers received a new poster, “Sea Turtles of the Gulf of Mexico” for their classrooms and will present information to students before beginning a letter campaign to the Governor’s office and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Other teachers who wish to join the campaign and receive a poster may e-mail the Gulf Restoration Project-Texas office.

Photo/Steve Jurvetson