By ADRIAN RAMOS
Texas Master Naturalist
Every year Sea Turtle Inc. chooses eight interns from universities around the country to work at its South Padre Island facility. Countless applications came in for this spring’s six positions and this summer’s two internship positions. Interns must be in a program or a graduate of biological science at a university or college. Curator Jeff George and his staff review applications, conduct countless interviews to pick the brightest and the best in the nation. If selected and they accept, they are rewarded with experience critical to their future success. They are provided housing on the Island and a daily stipend for their six or three month tour, as well as invaluable hands-on experience in conservation, research, public education, sea turtle medical care and wildlife interpretation.
Their internship duties range from working in STI’s turtle hospital, public education, and medical treatment, triaging, calculating dosages, assisting in gift shop and tagging sea turtles. They are provided with an opportunity of a lifetime to work directly with the conservation efforts to bring the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle off the endangered species list.
During Turtle nesting season they conduct ATV beach patrols from South Padre Island to Port Mansfield and along Boca Chica Beach, looking for momma turtles and their nests. If found, momma is tagged and documented and the eggs are harvested for safe incubation and hatching. They are then released around 54 days later when they hatch. A lot of the hatchling releases are open to the public at county beach access #3 just north of town.
Check the STI Facebook page every day at 6 a.m. for hatchling release notices. Come by STI on 6617 Padre Island Blvd to see the turtles, and meet the interns and staff.
Editor’s Note: Adrian Ramos is a Texas Master Naturalist and a volunteer at Sea Turtle Inc.