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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sea Turtle Hatchling Releases on South Padre Island

Hatchling heading toward the water

If you’re looking for a truly unique experience this summer and if you’re on South Padre Island at the right time, you may be lucky enough to get up at dawn and watch a turtle hatchling release.

Sea Turtle, Inc rescues the eggs when turtles lay them on the beaches of South Padre Island and Boca Chica. Weeks later when the babies (hatchlings) emerge from the nest, the staff releases them into the Gulf. The babies must crawl on the sand and be tossed around in the surf to identify this piece of earth as their home. Years later, the females will return here to nest.

Found the first wave
The nesting grounds of the Kemp’s Ridley turtles ranges from Galveston, Texas to Tamaulipas, Mexico with the majority of the nesting in Rancho Nuevo, Mexico. The Kemp’s Ridley fell from 40,000 nesting turtles in Rancho Nuevo in 1947 to less than 500 in the 1970s. Through the efforts of the Mexican and Texas governments and organizations like Sea Turtle Inc, after 40 years Rancho Nuevo counted more than 7,000 nests in 2012. South Padre Island recorded 69 and the Texas coast had a record year.

Female sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand. Producing an average of 100 eggs at a time, the females will nest two or three times a year. The eggs hatch from 48 to 62 days later.

Sea Turtle Inc has an informative website ( with updated information on nests and hatchling releases. For current information, follow Sea Turtle, Inc on Facebook. The babies must be released in the Gulf within hours after hatching. If the timing is right, the release is open to the public at Beach Access #3.

Toddlers to seniors transmit energy to the babies as they cheer them on their way to the water. It’s a long, hard journey for the hatchlings and their chances of reaching adulthood are slim, but it is nature’s way to replenish the species.