Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
July 2008 South Texas Sea Turtle Nesting Project Project - Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
Southwest Region, July 31, 2008
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Sea Turtle Inc., in partnership with Laguna Atascosa and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuges, conducts the South Texas Sea Turtle Nesting Project each summer.  Through this project, interns, volunteers, and staff search for and protect nesting Kemp's ridley and other sea turtles and their nests on South Padre Island and Boca Chica beaches in southernmost Texas.    

Patrols for nesting sea turtles were conducted from the beginning of April through mid-July.  One sea turtle nest was located in July, a Kemp's ridley nest found at hatching on Boca Chica on July 10, 2008.  This nest was at a marked location where tracks had been detected earlier, but no nest was found.  Nest remains found at this site indicate 62 of the 89 eggs in the nest hatched and 60 hatchlings emerged from the nest.

Including this in-situ nest, 29 documented Kemp's ridley nests hatched in July, producing a total of 2,560 hatchlings.  This included a nest of 65 eggs salvaged from one of the two adult nesting female Kemp's ridley sea turtle mortalities documented this year.  These 65 eggs were retrieved from the carcass of the nesting female, which died after being struck by a vehicle driving on the beach.  Six of these 65 eggs hatched and those 6 hatchlings were successfully released July 24, 2008.  A total of 9 public hatchling releases, attended by at least 1,120 visitors, were held in July.

On July 22, 2008, the seven nests remaining in the corral were excavated and packed into incubation boxes and moved to a safer location to prevent loss of the nests due to Hurricane Dolly, which made landfall on South Padre Island on July 23, 2008.  One nest that was in the process of hatching was taken by Sea Turtle Inc. staff and released July 22 and 24, 2008.  The other six nests were relocated to the headquarters area of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.  One of those nests hatched and was released July 28, 2008, with 126 of 129 eggs hatching and 126 hatchlings were released on South Padre Island.  The remaining five nests, including the green sea turtle nest, will hatch in August 2008.

As of the end of July, 48 sea turtle nests have hatched.  These 48 nests included 4,672 eggs that resulted in 3,933 hatchlings released for a hatch rate of 84.18%.  A total of 18 public hatchling releases, attended by at least 4,120 visitors, have been held.

This has proven to be a record year for Kemp's ridley sea turtle nesting, with record numbers of nests found in the project area and in Texas.  As of the end of July, a total of 53 sea turtle nests have been documented through this project this year, more than doubling the previous project record of 23 sea turtle nests found in this same area in 2007.  These 53 nests include 52 Kemp's ridley nests and one green sea turtle nest.  On Boca Chica, a total of 12 sea turtle nests, all of them Kemp's ridley, have been documented.  This included 1 nest found at hatching at a site where sea turtle tracks had been detected earlier but no nest was found.  This total of 12 nests exceeded the previous record of 7 nests found on Boca Chica in 2006.  On South Padre Island, a total of 41 sea turtle nests, including 40 Kemp's ridley and one green, have been documented.  This included two nests found at hatching, one at a site where sea turtle tracks had been detected earlier but no nest was found and one at a previously unknown site.  The green nest is the second green nest documented on South Padre Island since monitoring began. 

Contact Info: Linda Miller, (760) 326-3853 ext. 22 , linda_l_miller@fws.gov
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