The worst results of Hurricane Ike for sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico are just now becoming apparent. Tons of trash from destroyed beach houses are floating up on south Texas beaches including the Padre Island National Seashore where more Kemp’s ridleys have nested than anywhere else on the Texas coast. “Crews filled 14 40-cubic-yard Dumpsters in the past week,” reported Larry Turk, chief of maintenance for the Padre Island National Seashore. “Miles haven’t been touched.”
The most serious result of the storm may be the removal of sandy beaches from miles along the upper Texas coast. Dr. Andre Landry, Jr. of Texas A&M University at Galveston described the beaches as “primarily Beaumont clay that has been exposed as the sand was washed across roads and into the bay. We will have a severe problem during the nesting season if beaches are not renourished.”
Dr. Landry plans a survey of the upper Texas coast to get a complete picture of the beach erosion but right now, it looks very bad for nesters next spring.