By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
It’s been a busy nesting season for Sea Turtle, Inc. (STI) and it’s still not over. So far the nonprofit dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sea turtles has taken in eggs from 29 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.
To the pleasant surprise of STI staff, a loggerhead turtle nest containing 111 eggs was found just last week. It’s the first such nest since 2013, and only the sixth in the past decade. Loggerhead turtles normally nest along the Atlantic coast.
The real stars of the show, however, are the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. The smallest and most endangered of the oceans’ seven species of turtle, Kemp’s ridley are even more rare in that they alone come ashore to nest during the day. All other species nest at night.
The southern Texas coast is the only place in the U.S. the turtles nest. The majority — some 99 percent — nest along the shores of Northern Mexico. Sea turtles will return to where the beaches where they were born in order to lay eggs themselves. According to a fact sheet provided by STI, it can take between 12 to 30 years for a female Kemp’s ridley to reach reproductive age.
This year’s 30 nests have already surpassed the total number of nests found in 2014. Last year, 23 nests containing 2,132 eggs were found. The hatchling success rate stood at 90.6 percent, with 1,933 successfully released into the gulf.
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