For the love of turtles, please slow down!

By Teresa Shumaker

Special to the PRESS

Slow DownLO

A female Kemp’s ridley sea turtle passes in front of a Sea Turtle, Inc. volunteer’s parked Jeep on South Padre Beach. Because of their light coloring, the nesting sea turtles are often hard to see — which is one reason for the 15 m.p.h. speed limit. Sea Turtle, Inc. photo.

May and June is the height of nesting season for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle on Texas and Mexican beaches. The adult sea turtle’s shell is pale and can easily blend in with the sand, which makes it imperative that driver’s on the beach obey the 15 m.p.h. speed limit on the county beaches.

It takes a lot of energy for the sea turtles, which are not adapted for land, to traverse the beach beyond the high-tide line to lay their eggs. Because of that, it can take a while for a sea turtle to cross the beach and sometimes they can stop in the middle of the “road” to catch their breath.

Kemp’s ridleys are unique amongst sea turtles; they are the only ones who nest during the day. But Atlantic greens and loggerheads — who are night-time nesters — sometimes nest on SPI beaches, too. It is equally important to exercise caution both day and night.

Sea Turtle, Inc. has patrollers scanning 50 miles of South Texas beaches to find, then to relocate the nests to a corral, away from predators.

The public plays a big part in the stewardship of this endangered species by driving safely and slowly on the beaches and alerting STI when they see a nesting sea turtle.

The fines for striking a sea turtle are steep, and if it is a mother Kemp’s ridley, the fine is multiplied for each turtle — the mother and each egg.

So far, 18 nests have been discovered and are estimated to begin hatching as early as June 15. When the nests get close to hatching, STI posts updates to its Facebook andTwitter accounts and sends emails to its members. To learn more about sea turtles, please visit Sea Turtle, Inc. on the island or online at

And remember, please drive slowly and if anyone sees a sea turtle on the beach, please call Sea Turtle, Inc. at 956-761-4511.

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