Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

While relaxing at the beach on Bolivar Peninsula I ran into a friend of mine who came across a dead Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), which by the way, is the most endangered sea turtle in the world. Back in 1985 it was near extinction. These turtles are the smallest of marine turtles and are frequently caught in shrimp nets which led to the use of Turtle Exclusion Devices (TED). They have been showing up on the shores of Bolivar Peninsula this summer where six nests were found. This is an increase from the prior years of 2004 (2 nests) and 2007 (1 nest). Beachgoers have been asked via signage to notify the Texas Sea Turtle Hotline (1-866-TURTLE-5) to report any sea turtle activity on any Texas beaches. If nests and eggs are found they are collected and transported to a hatchery on South Padre Island, TX to incubate. Once they hatch and become active they are released into the ocean. If you would like to witness the release of new hatchlings on South Padre Island go here to see dates and times.

I found these “rules” of what to do if you find a sea turtle:

1. Stay away from the turtle.
2. Do not touch it or let children play with it.
3. Do not let the turtle see you until she is laying eggs.
4. Call the Sea Turtle Hotline (24-7) at 1-866-887-8535 (1-866-TURTLE-5).
5. Write down your exact location.
6. Take note of your position and landmarks around you.
7. Take pictures or video if you have a camera.
8. Place a stake in the sand about one foot to the side of the nest.
9. If there are any tags on the turtle do not remove them.
10. Write down the numbers on the tag.

Also, you check out the movements of several Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles that are being tracked by satellite here. I notified the Texas Sea Turtle Hotline of the location of the dead one and was told that someone would come to collect it. Photo of the Kemp Ridley’s Turtle was provided thanks to Keith Rogers.

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