All five sea turtle species that occur in the Gulf of Mexico have been documented nesting at Padre Island National Seashore in recent decades. Padre Island National Seashore is the only area in Texas where nests from all five species have been documented. Many more Kemp's ridley sea turtle nests have been documented in Texas compared to the other sea turtle species.
How Sea Turtle Nests are Found
Sea turtle nests are found in Texas during directed searches (turtle patrols) and as a result of reports from others working or recreating on the beach. Sightings of nesting turtles, tracks that nesting turtles have left in the sand, hatchlings emerging from previously undetected nests, and eggshells at predated nests are all important leads in documenting nesting.
Turtle patrols to detect and protect nesting sea turtles and sea turtle nests are now conducted on all Texas Gulf beaches to some extent from April through July. This encompasses the nesting season documented for Kemp's ridley sea turtles in Texas to date. It also encompasses when most sea turtle nests are found and documented. However, a few nests are sometimes found in August and September and some areas also patrol then in hopes of finding additional nesting by Kemp's ridleys and other sea turtles. Most patrols are conducted during daylight hours, since Kemp's ridleys mostly nest mostly during the day. However, some Kemp's ridleys nest at night and other sea turtle species typically nest at night.
The National Park Service conducts the patrol program to detect, study, and protect nesting Kemp's ridley sea turtles and sea turtle nests on North Padre Island, including Padre Island National Seashore. This program is made possible due to funding from the federal government, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and a variety of partners and donors, and the aid of over 100 volunteers. Repeated patrols are conducted daily from April through mid-July, from about 6:30 am - 6:30 pm. Turtle patrol coverage is greatly reduced at other times of the year.
There were 106 Kemps ridley nests found at Padre Island National Seashore in 2012.(Information above was taken from the NPS website.)
Anyone interested in volunteering to work with the Kemps ridley restoration project at the National Seashore should plan to attend a mandatory orientation session on March 9 or 21 plus an all-day UTV training session on March 10 or March 22. All park visitors are requested to alert officials of any stranded sea turtles sighted by calling 361 949-8173 ext. 266.
Submitted by Venice Scheurich and Mina Williams, Feb.11, 2013