It takes a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle about 45 minutes to nest.
“They are quick,” said Donna Shaver, chief of the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at the Padre Island National Seashore.
That’s how long it takes from the moment they crawl out of the water, scuttle up the beach, dig a hole with their rear flippers, lay eggs in the hole, cover the nest with sand and head back into the water.
And this year, about 175 of those nests were found so far on the Texas coast.
“This season is looking pretty good,” Shaver said. “We have more nests so far than we did in 2015, 2014 and 2013. However it’s still lower than 2012, when we had 209 nests on Texas coasts.”
There’s one month left in the nesting season and Shaver said she hopes to get closer to the 2012 record with the help of staff and volunteers.
She said 84 of the nests were found at Padre Island National Seashore, and nine on North Padre Island north of the National Seashore.
Padre Island National Seashore will host about 20 public releases of Kemp’s ridley hatchlings this year, including one Friday and others through mid-August.
Release dates depend upon when the eggs hatch and the hatchlings become ready for release, officials said.
Jan Sawyer, 80, has been a turtle patrol volunteer since 2002.
She did not spot a mother turtle crawl out from the water until about two years after she started volunteering. Since then, she spots one to two turtles nesting every season, she said.
“To see the mother turtles is as exciting now as it was the first time,” Sawyer said. “To see them nest and then to be able to help out during the public releases is a wonderful thing.”
The fourth public release of the season will be at 6:45 a.m. Friday at the Padre Island National Seashore.
There will be no fee to enter the national seashore to watch the release in front of the Malaquite Beach Visitor Center, which is about 2 miles from the entrance.
Officials advise calling the Hatchling Hotline at 361-949-7163 to make sure the release has not been canceled. The cancellation notice will be posted on the Padre Island National Seashore Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery Facebook page by 2 a.m.
Food is prohibited. To not disorient the turtles, viewers should not wear white clothing or white shoes or take photos using a flash. via Callertimes.com Twitter: @CallerNatalia