High Tides Wash Out Endangered Turtle Nests along SPI
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – A local conservation group continues assessing dozens of nesting sites found flooded or washed out.
Sea Turtle Inc. said this weekend’s high tides damaged endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nesting sites along South Padre Island. The high tide can be linked to the strong winds that came with the recent cold front.
Sea Turtle Inc. executive director Jeff George said they always prepare for similar events.
“It made finding our nesting turtles very difficult… None of those eggs would have hatched had we left it in their original site,” he said.
George has taken part of sea turtle conservation efforts at South Padre Island for almost 26 years. He said events like the one this weekend are rare and dangerous to their mission.
So far, the group moved 29 nests to a safe location. Each nest holds about 100 eggs.
Sea turtle nests are typically surrounded by plants and vegetation far away from the shoreline. George said high tides reached those nests this weekend, possibly close enough to drown those eggs.
“Unfortunately, if there were any out there that we had not moved, they’re probably gone,” he said.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kemp’s Ridley is the most endangered of the sea turtles. They also only lay eggs in Texas and Tamaulipas.
George said there are many dangers to the reptiles.
“Driving on the beach, high tides in the spring, a lot of predators on our beaches where there aren’t people,” he said. “It’s important that people know to stay away from mama because they’ll scare her back into the ocean and she’ll lose her eggs.”
George said with nesting season underway, it’s not unusual if people run into a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle while out at the island.
Messing with an endangered species is a federal offense and can land you a hefty fine as well as jail time.
Anyone that comes across a sea turtle nest is urged to contact Sea Turtle Inc. at 761-4511.
Sea turtles are also known to get caught in fishing line. The group urges anyone to contact them first so they can guide them on how to safely remove the hook or line.
People are also advised to properly throw away all their fishing line.
More than 100 sea turtles are rescued every year. Last year, the organization found 15 of them tangled in fishing line.