SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Accompanying the arrival of warmer weather in the Valley are hundreds of female turtles who venture into the ocean with one goal in mind — producing the next generation of hatchlings.
Upon making their way out of the water and onto the sand, nesting turtles search for the perfect spot for their babies.
After laying their eggs, they make an attempt to camouflage their nest into sand and then go back into the ocean leaving them vulnerable to a variety of dangers.
Since the beginning of April, teams of four to five Sea Turtle Inc. ATV patrollers have been searching Boca Chica and South Padre Island beaches for nesting females and nests.
After weeks of searching, they found their first nest of the season last Sunday.
A total of 95 eggs were excavated from the nest and will be incubated in a corral until mid-June.
“We were getting pretty antsy and wanted the season to start,” said Conservation and Internship Coordinator Mariana Devlin. “So, we’re happy the mamas are finally coming out to lay eggs.”
Eggs are incubated in a protected corral for 45 to 55 days, according to Devlin.
Once the babies begin emerging from their eggs, Sea Turtle Inc. staff release them on isolated areas of the beach where sea turtle hatchlings can use the light of the moon to navigate from the beach to the ocean.
Sea Turtle Inc. staff members protect sea turtle nests from a variety of dangers including vehicular traffic, predators and tidal inundation caused by high tides.
Devlin said Sea Turtle Inc. staff’s ultimate goal is to protect as many nests as possible.
Beachgoers who come across nests or injured turtles are encouraged to call Sea Turtle Inc.’s emergency hotline at (956) 243-4361.