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Season's first Nesting Sea Turtle Spotted Easter Sunday

After a sea turtle mother lays her eggs, she returns to the sea, leaving her fragile offspring to fend for themselves. Sea turtle nesting season is usually April 1-July 15. Photos courtesy of the National Park Service

The first of this season’s nesting sea turtles was spotted on Mustang Island on Easter Sunday. The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle laid 78 eggs, which were moved to the Padre Island National Seashore’s Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery for incubation, after the mother abandoned them. (Sea turtles are notoriously bad mothers.)

Nesting season typically begins in Texas around April 1 but can be delayed by colder-than-usual temperatures, as experienced this year. Anyone spotting a nesting sea turtle should immediately notify Padre Island National Seashore by calling (361) 949-8173 ext. 226. They also should mark the spot, but only after the mother is long gone. If a mother turtle is disturbed, she will return to the water without laying her eggs.

Once notified, park rangers arrive to transport the turtle eggs to incubators at Padre Island National Seashore. Within the next 40-48 days, the eggs hatch and the babies prepare for their own trip into the Gulf of Mexico.

Nesting usually continues through July 15. Also in July and August, as the eggs begin to hatch, Padre Island National Seashore holds public releases on Malaquite Beach just below the visitor center. Hundreds gather at about 6:45 a.m. on release days to watch as tiny turtles make their way into the Gulf.

To volunteer to help patrol the beaches looking for nesting sea turtles, call (361) 949-8174 ext. 268 or email pais_seaturtlevolunteer@nps.gov. Training sessions for each season are held in February and March. All 2019 training sessions are complete.

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