200 Sea turtles released

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2006 has been a good year for the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle program at the national seashore on Padre Island. There were a record number of turtle nesting at the park this year and the first batch of hatchlings were released to the gulf early Monday morning.

As the sun rose on the Padre Island National Seashore, the Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle (Wikipedia) hatchlings began a trip to their new home. Before leaving, some of their audience got an up close and personal view.

“Can you see the turtle? Look at her flippers isn’t that neat?” asked J.D. Mason. “They’re pretty cute looking, they’re cool. They are not very fast, but they’re really cool.”

Some hatchlings became a little impatient, causing a turtle traffic jam. But eventually they separated from the pack and caught some waves to the delight of the smiling crowd.

“Oh I love it, it’s great seeing the babies released after such hard work that everybody’s put into,” said Melanie Briggs.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing they’re doing to preserve them in order that we give back to the environment some of the things we’ve used up,” said Fay Barton.

The news isn’t all good when these little ones hit the water. Experts estimate only about four or five of these nearly 200 will survive, because of hazards like pollution, fishing nets and other hungry animals.

But this release breeds hope that’s these hatchlings will return in 10 or 15 years and help this rare species flourish.

These hatchlings are part of a record 81 nests found along the Texas coast this year. If the Kemps Ridley population recovers at the current pace, experts said the turtles will be removed from the endangered list by the year 2020.

For more information about the next hatchling release, just call the hatchling hotline at (361) 949-7163.