SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Sea turtle nesting season begins in April and runs through August and experts are stressing the importance of taking care of them.

Dr. Amy Bonka, the chief conservation officer at Sea Turtle Inc., said the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are the most critically endangered of all sea turtles.

“The Kemp’s Ridley nests in the daytime. So, if you’re here enjoying the beaches, having a good beach day, there’s a potential that you can see a nesting female come ashore to nest with us,” said Bonka.

She said the organization and partners work together to prepare for the season and also transport sea turtle eggs to a safe location to avoid the loss of any hatchlings.

“We train a lot of volunteers; we have a huge turnout from the community that is interested in helping and learning more and going out and patrolling and so be able to patrol with us there’s state training and there’s also Sea Turtle Inc. specific training that we undergo,” said Bonka.

She explained that touching sea turtles without proper permits is illegal and stressed the importance of reporting any sightings of nesting sea turtles or their nests to Sea Turtle Inc.

“The best thing you want to do is first stay back about 15 to 20 feet. You want to give her plenty of space so that she can continue to undergo the behavior that she’s here to do. It’s really critical that she’s able to come onshore and lay those eggs because they’re critically endangered,” she said.

Bonka said keeping the beaches clean is also important for nesting sea turtles.

“If there are holes, if there’s a lot of trash that can injure our nesting females they can fall into those holes, hatchlings can also get stuck in holes, and then the trash can also be really detrimental. We want to make sure we keep things clean so that we can enjoy the beaches and they can nest as well,” she said.

Although the work takes a lot of planning and is a process, it’s a rewarding experience for Bonka, her team, and the community.

“Releases are some of the best parts of nesting season when we get to see all of that work kind of crawl down and head back out into the water. If we have nests that hatch out during a time frame that is close to sunrise, then we can have public releases and we really hope that we have some nests that hatch out within that window this year,” she said.

She encouraged people to call their 24/7 emergency number (956) 243-4361, to report any sightings of nests or nesting sea turtles.