Sea turtles rebounding in Gulf of Mexico

tx_seaturtles.jpgThe Corpus Christi Caller Times reported Monday that a record number of Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) nests were found this year on South Texas beaches, making the Padre Island National Seashore the hottest nesting spot for sea turtles in the United States.

To give you an idea of the effort that went into the search, a total of 135 sea turtle nests were located in 8,895 hours of surveys over 73,632 miles of daily patrols. Of these, 128 nests were Kemp’s ridleys, six nests were loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), and one nest was from a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Donna Shaver, chief of the division of sea turtle science at PINS, credits the nesting increase to years of protection efforts that began in Mexico in 1966, and spread to the United States in 1978. Part of the success may also be attributed to a captive rearing program, which released 10, 549 Kemp’s ridley hatchings into the Gulf of Mexico this year.

According to conservation agencies, some of the pressures that drove the species to near extinction include environmental problems, natural predators, shrimper’s nets, Mexican cowboys who make boots form the leather, and those who eat sea turtle eggs as an aphrodisiac. More on that story here.