Kemp's Ridley Nesting Season Ends

The Kemp's ridley sea turtle nesting season ended this week and the trends continue to be encouraging for the endangered creatures. Rod Rice reports.

This year 193 nests were found along the Texas Gulf Coast.  That's up from 123 last year. Carole Allen with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project say there may be more.

"We're still finding emerging hatchlings which are coming from nests which were not seen by the public."

Turtle patrols look for nests and try to protect them. But they don't find all of them. That can be dangerous, because the hatchlings trying to make their way to water at night. Allen says at least four hatchings from an undiscovered nest on Bolivar were crushed by cars or stepped on as they tried to get to the water this week.

Kemp's ridley sea turtles are protected on beaches south of Matagorda Island, so Allen says it's a very good sign that female turtles are even nesting on the north coast.

"There were 16 this year from Matagorda Island on across to Bolivar, now that doesn't seem like many, but a few years ago that's the way it was for the whole Texas coast."

Six of those 16 nests were on Bolivar, that's up from one last year and two in 2004.

The cloud over all of this is that money for the turtle patrols is going away.

"Texas A&M University at Galveston has been providing patrols from money that they have acquired from the state, but after next year that's going to end unless we can come up with federal funding."

Allen also wants funds for a larger project here on the upper Texas coast. When turtle patrols find it necessary to gather turtle eggs, they are sent to South Padre Island for incubation and release.

"Well, since the mother turtle chose the upper Texas coast to lay eggs, I think we should have that facility, ah, one like it, on the north Texas coast to release those turtles in the Galveston area."

Allen says the Kemp's ridley sea turtle is still critically endangered and another five or six thousand nesting females will be need to move Kemp's ridley from being endangered to being threatened.

Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...