Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Three Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Nests Found on Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge
Southwest Region, June 2, 2005
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History was made on June 2, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. when the first Kemp's Ridley sea turtle nest was found on Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge. Turtle patrol volunteers, Paul and Mary Meredith, detected turtle tracks that originated at the high tide line and moved inland for 30 yards. Inspection of the tracks suggested that some time within in the last 24 hours a sea turtle crawled onto the beach and buried a clutch of eggs.

Using the track pattern as a guide refuge personnel, with assistance from Padre Island National Seashore personnel, located and excavated a nest containing 71 eggs. This nest was packed and shipped to Padre Island National Seashore where the eggs will be incubated over the next 48-55 days. After examining the eggs and turtle tracks a positive identification determined that the turtle was indeed a Kemp's Ridley. Kemp's Ridley sea turtles are one of the five species of sea turtles that can be found along the Texas coast, of which all five are listed as threatened or endangered.

A second Kemp's Ridley nest containing 98 eggs was found on June 6, 2005 by Holis McKinney and Sherrie Krause. The eggs were found and excavated by Refuge staff with assistance of Padre Island National Seashore personnel within 24 hours of being laid. This nest contained 98 eggs and showed slight signs of calcification.

During a two night stay on Matagorda Island, turtle patrol team members located a third nest for the season. On June 8, 2005, Donna McKinney and Ray Kirkwood detected a Kemp's Ridley sea turtle nest soon after it had been laid. A recovery team excavated the nest 24 hours later. This nest contained 93 eggs.

All turtle eggs found on Matagorda Island were taken to the incubation facility at the Padre Island National Seashore, where they are expected to hatch within 48-55 days.

Discovery of the turtle nests represent the only documented accounts of a sea turtle nesting on Matagorda Island. The fact that the nests belonged to Kemp's Ridley sea turtles is encouraging because it could indicate that the species may be expanding their nesting range.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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