Environment Forum

Good news on the Texas turtle front

June 19, 2008

turtle.jpg 

There are two turtle tales brewing on the coast of Texas at the moment and they’re both good.

First the numbers tale. 

The dedicated folks at the South Padre Island conservation facility Sea Turtle, Inc, report record numbers of nests by endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

“We have had record numbers of ridley nests on the Texas coast this year. We have found over 170 so far in 2008 compared to the previous record of 128 for all of last year,” Sea Turtle, Inc, curator Jeff George told Reuters.

This is the fifth straight year that the numbers have increased.

The species still has a few weeks left to its nesting season in the area, so the recorded 2008 total could reach 200.

The other turtle tidbit? Biologists report that for the first time in at least 70 years they have identified a leatherback turtle nest on the Texas coast.

The 203 cm (over six-foot) wide track in the sand was the first clue to the identity of the leatherback which laid two eggs early in June on Big Shell Island on the Padre Island National Seashore.

The eggs are being kept in an incubation facility and should hopefully hatch sometime around early August.

The massive leatherbacks are the largest of all living turtles, making them a wildlife icon.

George said both tales are good signals which show that conservation efforts from less destructive fishing practices to beach preservation and public education are working.

“The hope is that there are more turtles in the Gulf of Mexico that will use Texas as their breeding ground,” said George.

(Photo credit: Tim Wimborne, Reuters, April 12, 2006)

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