Kemp's Ridley Turtles Nesting More
Here's a bit of good news to distract us from the tragedies and hardships around the national park system: wildlife biologists are reporting a relative boom in the number of Kemp's Ridley sea turtle nests in Padre Island National Seashore and elsewhere along the Texas coast.
As of the end of May, a total of 51 nests had been counted at the national seashore, bringing the total for the entire Texas coastline to 76. Last year the total was 51.
Of course, this species, considered to be the most endangered of all marine turtles, is not exactly out of danger of extinction. History shows us that back in 1947 a total of 40,000 nesting females was counted in one day, while in 1994 a total of just 580 nests was counted the entire year. In fact, it wasn't too long ago that the species' nested exclusively along one five-mile stretch of Mexican coastline.
The species' decline has been blamed on human activities, such as collecting the eggs, killing the turtles for market, and incidental take by shrimp trawlers. These days the turtle's population is estimated to contain 900 nesting females, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
If you happen to be near Padre Island National Seashore next week, you might want to check to see when the seashore's biologists will be releasing turtle hatchlings into the wild. For details on when those releases will occur, check out the park's web site or call 361-949-7163.
Restoring the species has been the work of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sea Turtle, Inc., the University of Texas, Texas A&M University at Galveston, NOAA Fisheries, and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project.