By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Cars were packed onto the shoulder of Park Road 100 for several hundred yards on either side of the entrance to County Beach Access #3 Wednesday morning as hundreds of people arrived to witness what was expected to be one of the largest sea turtle hatchling releases ever.
The tiny creatures did not disappoint.
By Tuesday afternoon, staff at Sea Turtle Inc. (STI) estimated that over 1,000 turtles could emerge from their nests and spur a public release event, if the timing was right.
It was set to be a busy release on a banner year that has seen almost 7,000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtle eggs laid all along the shores of South Padre Island. In the end, most of the expected babies made their way to the surface in the overnight hours and were released privately by STI staff and volunteers, but another 200 emerged just in time for their moment in the sun.
“This is probably the most babies we’ve released in an 8-hour period ever on South Padre Island,” said STI Director Jeff George after the public release was over. Approximately 800 turtles were released between 1:30 a.m. and the public sunrise release, George said.
The number of Kemp’s ridley nests found so far this year is close to setting a new record. So far, 68 Kemp’s ridley nests have been discovered, with more expected as the season continues. The previous record was set in 2012 when 69 nests were found.
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