Nesting & hatchling season is an exciting time for us at Sea Turtle, Inc. Below, you will find resources to explain our role in nesting season and information on public hatchling releases. The 2023 nesting season officially kicks off on April 1st!
Chief Conservation Officer, Dr. Amy Bonka, explains our role in nesting season on South Padre Island
Hatchling Season & Public Release FAQs
Our number one priority is to make sure sea turtle hatchlings make it to the Gulf of Mexico as soon as they hatch. Generally, it happens right in the middle of the night. However, sometimes hatchlings emerge as the sun is rising, and we are able to hold a public release. Your chance of seeing a public hatchling release increases when a lot of nests are expected to hatch at the same time.
June through to August.
A post will be made on our Facebook account on the morning of a release. We have two possible release times of 6:45 and 7:45 am.
It’s free, although spots are limited. Plan to arrive early.
In the best interest of the hatchlings, we release as soon as nests hatch. The unpredictable timing of nature means we cannot predetermine release days and times.
No. Sea turtles are state and federally are protected. Only permitted individuals are allowed to handle sea turtles by law.
Nest conservation program
Every year, multiple species of sea turtles come ashore to lay eggs on the beaches of South Padre Island and Boca Chica Beach. The most common nesting female we encounter is the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). The Kemp’s ridley is critically endangered due to decades of egg harvesting in their primary nesting grounds of Rancho Nuevo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and mortality related to shrimp fisheries before the implementation of Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) . Today, there are multiple government agencies and non-profit organizations in both Mexico and the United States working towards saving this critically endangered species of sea turtle.
Since 1999, Sea Turtle, Inc. has participated in the bi-national efforts to protect the Kemp’s ridley and other species of sea turtles that come ashore to lay eggs. Between April 1 and August 15, our interns and volunteers conduct daily patrols in the 50 southernmost miles of Texas’ beaches looking for sea turtle nesting activity. If we encounter a nesting female, we carefully tag the turtle, take a biopsy sample, and collect morphometric data as a part of collaborative studies. Once the nesting female is safely back in the water, we excavate her eggs and relocate them to a hatchery for safe incubation. After a period of 45 to 55 days, hatchlings emerge from the nest cavities and we safely release them to the Gulf of Mexico under moonlight and away from city lights. When conditions allow, we hold public hatchling releases.
Conservation around the World
Sea Turtle, Inc. is a proud advocate of other sea turtle conservation programs around the world. We have provided financial support to a sea turtle hospital in Glyfada, Greece (Year 2019) and a sea turtle nesting project in the southern beaches of Sri Lanka (Year 2019 and 2020).
In 2021 we supported sea turtle nesting programs in Mexico and Venezuela.
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Sea Turtle Hatchling releases
Our number one priority is to make sure sea turtle hatchlings make it to the Gulf of Mexico as soon as they hatch. Generally, it happens right in the middle of the night. However, sometimes hatchlings emerge as the sun is rising, and we are able to hold a public release. Your chance of seeing a public hatchling release increases when a lot of nests are expected to hatch at the same time. Look at the calendar below to see how many nests we have protected and the expected dates of hatching.
* Public Hatchling Releases will be announced the morning of at 6 a.m. No post will be made if no hatchling release is occurring that morning. Please engage on our Facebook page for the latest information .
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