Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel say nesting season is off to a “great start”

A sea turtle nests on the beach at Cameron County Beach Access #5. Beachgoers that spot a nesting sea turtle or nest should contact Sea Turtle, Inc. at (956) 761-4511. Courtesy photo

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — During this time of year, several conservationists work toward protecting nesting sea turtles and eggs from predators and other obstacles.

Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel created a Let’s Talk Sea Turtles Facebook Live video on May 2 that discussed nesting facts and gave updates on this season’s progress.

Rachel LeCates, a Sea Turtle, Inc. environmental educator was the host of the video.

As of May 2, facility personnel have found at least 25 sea turtle nests on Boca Chica beach and South Padre Island beaches.

According to LeCates, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the most endangered turtle species in the world and like to nest during the day in windy conditions.

“ They only nest in Texas and Northern Mexico so we have a huge responsibility to protect these species,” LeCates said. “We take it very seriously and we have a very dedicated team of conservationists that look after this species.”

LeCates said facility personnel collected eight nests on April 27, which is the highest number in a day for the season as of May 2.

According to LeCates, the number of nests found changes about every hour.

LeCates said olive ridleys and kemp’s ridleys nest in a unique manner called arribadas.

“ It’s kind of a strength in numbers so they nest all at the same time,” she explained. “They’ll come up on the beach so if their population numbers were at their original levels, we would see thousands of mamas coming up on the beach at the same time.”

LeCates said sadly, the numbers are low so there are mini-arribadas.

“ We had a couple of turtles coming up at the same time,” she said. “So this is a strategy that they use to avoid predation because if there’s a ton of turtles coming up on the beach at the same time it’s difficult for predators to get them.”

According to LeCates, the largest clutch size of eggs facility personnel have found so far is 112 and the smallest is 22.

Each nest that Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel find is incubated in the nonprofit’s corral facility for around 45 to 55 days.

To sponsor a hatchling or nest, visit https://seaturtleinc.org/shop/give/adoptions/.

In 2019, facility personnel found 49 nests and 3,649 hatchlings were released.

“ It’s one of my favorite moments when we get to release these hatchlings,” LeCates said. “Seeing them make their journey to the ocean is a really wonderful thing.”

In late April, this nesting sea turtle was found at Cameron County Beach Access #5. The flags indicate that a nest has been found. Courtesy photo
A sea turtle nests on the beach at Cameron County Beach Access #5. Beachgoers that spot a nesting sea turtle or nest should contact Sea Turtle, Inc. at (956) 761-4511. Courtesy photo