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Padre Island National Seashore celebrating 40 years of sea turtle conservation

Posted: 10:45 AM, Jul 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-09 11:45:26-04

Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) is celebrating a big milestone – 40 years of sea turtle conservation.

The effort, called Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Restoration & Enhancement Project, began in the 1970’s. For 40 years, staff have patrolled beaches for Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nests, provided a safe space for sea turtles to hatch, and hosted a number of safe releases. 

The 40-year-long effort is still going strong thanks to the help of experts like Dr. Donna Shaver. Dr. Shaver is the Chief of the division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at PINS, and has dedicated almost four decades to the conservation effort. She says in that time, partners in the United States and Mexico have made great progress in restoring the sea turtle population.

"We’re really proud because last year, there were 353 Kemp’s Ridley nests found in Texas," Dr. Shaver said.

That’s almost half of the 702 total nests found worldwide in 1985. Meanwhile, records show almost 40 years earlier, about 40,000 nests were found in a single day.

In an effort to celebrate the success of restoring the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, staff from the Seashore is hosting its first-ever Ridley Rendezvous Festival on Saturday, July 14th. It’s an event celebrating the success of the conservation program. There will be plenty of fun for kids and adults, including a sea turtle release, sea turtle presentations, sand sculptures, and face painting. 

Last but not least, kids from around the country are showing their enthusiasm about the conservation effort. More than 100 pieces of artwork will be displayed at the Malaquite Visitor’s Center during the event. 

Dr. Shaver says the event is also a reminder that plenty of work still needs to be done.

"It remains the most critically endangered sea turtle species in the world. And we need to do more work to get the numbers up even higher to recover the species," Dr. Shaver said. "But we’re thrilled that we’re moving in the right direction," she added.

The event is scheduled to take place at the Malaquite Visitor’s Center on Saturday, July 14 from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Park entrance fees will not be charged.