CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Save the Sea Turtles is a group that has set out to, save the Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Program (STSR) at Padre Island National Seashore (PINS). A review by the National Parks Service (NPS) has recommended many changes that the group doesn’t agree with.
For the last two weekends, locals and vacationers have stopped at Padre Islander Island Sports, sharing their thoughts why sea turtles need to be saved by writing postcards.
People like Virginia Gonzales and her family stopped at Island Sports while on vacation from San Antonio. They met the Save the Sea Turtles group and decided to write a postcard for them.
“We’ve seen on National Geographic all those programs how important they are to the ecology," Gonzales said. "And, I also know that they also seeked for a lot of things for a lot of things that they shouldn’t be. Their eggs are not protected, a lot of the sea turtles don’t make it back to the sea. I just think they’re a creature that really needs our help.”
The Save the Sea Turtles group is asking people to write postcards to get the attention of the director of NPS. The group said all their efforts to contact park leaders have been ignored.
Following a review of the STSR program, the group has concerns about the changes being made.
“We’re taking a cue from Harry Potter where he gets a message from Hogwarts and they try to stop it from coming. And, the postcards and letters are flying through the window," Marilyn Litt said, a volunteer with the group. "And, we want that to happen to the director of the National Parks Service.”
The review states that because the program only cares for about 1 percent of the world’s endangered Kemps Ridley sea turtle population and the programs budget is 24 percent of PINS budget, NPS suggested significantly scaling back the program.
One of the changes would be cutting back on hatchling events. That's one of the biggest gripes the group has.
“This sea turtle program is a million dollar industry to the city of Corpus Christi and surrounding communities," Jan Roberson said, a member of Save the Sea Turtles. "I’ve been dispatch before out at the turtle lab and we’ll get people call in, when is the next release?”
“What other people won’t talk about is if they dismantle the program and they defund it, then they can rezone the area and privatize it," Rachel Caballero said, another member of the group. "So, that’s what we’re fighting for too.”
The report states that PINS has indicated a shortfall in funding is approaching. On top of that NPS recommends scaling back employment for the program as thousands of hours of overtime have been logged. NPS also recommends finding alternate ways to fund the program. NPS does not approve of the STSR program using project grants to fund the program.
“In the environment of the political world right now, they’re not listening to us," Caballero said. "So, whether it’s completely effective or not, we’re going to keep fighting.”
“We want anyone in government to know how important it is. It’s a part of our culture it’s apart of our daily lives, it’s a part of our nature and just like any other creature they deserve our help,” said Gonzales.
In the first weekend, 130 postcards were written and sent. 180 postcards were collected on the second weekend. The will be addressed to NPS Director Charles Sams III and Brenda Mallory, the Chair of the Council of Environmental Quality.
Save the Sea Turtles is planning to be back at Island Sports on Memorial Day Weekend, asking more people to sign postcards.