SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas – Despite efforts to save the endangered Kemp’s-ridley sea turtle, the numbers are dwindling, even after efforts from conservationists in the Rio Grande Valley.
The sea turtles are commonly found along the beaches of South Padre Island. There has been a drastic decline of sightings and nests in the past three years. Experts say this is not good for the already endangered species.
Jeff George, Sea Turtle, Inc. Executive Director says, “The Kemp’s-ridley is still the world’s most endangered sea turtle.”
This year’s sudden decrease in nesting for the sea turtles is causing concern. Their nesting numbers hit an all time low this year with only 190 nests recorded. It’s a significant drop just in the last three years. Experts are not sure what caused this but there are some speculations.
George says, “There’s a lot of theories floating around. Some is the fishing activity coming out of Tamaulipas maybe having a role in the decline. It’s going to take time, it’s going to take several years before we understand what’s going on.”
Sea Turtle, Inc. is a conservation group whose efforts are to save and protect these animals. Their main concern is finding these sea turtle nests and moving them somewhere safe.
“We’re going to move the eggs to a protected sanctuary. We call it a hatchery and then we’re going to incubate the eggs naturally and then we’re going to get the babies safely into the water where they belong.” says George.
Even after they release the babies into the ocean, it takes about 12 years for them to grow up and be able to reproduce. So, their chances of surviving the ocean during that time is slim.
George adds, “Now with all this effort the estimate is, if we protect 300 eggs, 12 years from now, 1 turtle has survived.”
For now the nesting season is over until next summer. Experts hope next year is a better year for them. Nesting season starts in March and that is when Sea Turtle, Inc. takes in the Kemp’s-ridley eggs.
At the end of July is when Sea Turtle, Inc. releases the baby turtles out to sea. The public is welcome to come and watch.