Egg-citing news awaited staff at Galveston Island State Park when they went to work this morning. A routine survey by the Sea Aggie Sea Turtle Patrol turned up a Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle nest containing 107 eggs in the dunes on the beachside of Galveston Island State Park. This was the first nest found at the park since 2012, and only one of three nests found at the park since the Turtle Patrol began keeping records.
Once the nest was discovered, the Turtle Patrol and the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research began coordinating transport of the nest to the incubation facility at Padre Island National Seashore.
“The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle is one of the most endangered sea turtle species in the world so every egg matters,” said Dr. Christopher Marshall, Professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston, and Director for the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research. “A lot of nesting habitat for the Kemp’s Ridley has been lost to storms, high tide and predation, which is why it is important to transport these nests to an environment where they have the best chance for survival into adulthood.”
The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle was almost lost in the 1980s, added Marshall. If a nest were to be left on the beach, the eggs would have about a 45 percent chance of survival. In the incubation facility, survival rates can be up to 95 percent.
“The Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research appreciates the partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, especially Galveston Island State Park,” said Marshall. “The park hosts our volunteers and serves as a home base for the Turtle Patrol on the Upper Coast. The partnership has been invaluable.”
Typical nesting season for the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle runs between April 1 and July 15. If anyone finds a nest, they should call the Sea Turtle hotline at 1-866-TURTLE-5 and stay at least 60 feet away from the turtle or nest.
For images of the nest, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Flickr page.