Our Mission: At Sea Turtle Inc., our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea turtles, educate the public, and assist with conservation efforts for all marine turtle species.
Sea Turtle, Inc. was founded in 1977 by Ila Fox Loetscher, better known as "The Turtle Lady of South Padre Island". In 1999, Sea Turtle, Inc. moved from Ila's backyard into its current location at 6617 Padre Blvd.
Originally this organization was formed to aid in the protection and recovery of the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle. Our mission has now expanded into three parts:
Sea Turtle, Inc is a non-profit organization 501(C)(3). The sole source of income is public donations which are used to achieve the three missions. Specifically, donations help with the upkeep of the sea turtles housed at the facility. This includes food, medications, heaters, filters, water and electricity. Donations are also used to support Sea Turtle, Inc.’s educational programs. About 20% of our donations are sent around the world to fund alternative resource and conservation projects involving sea turtles.
Sea Turtle, Inc. awards scholarships to university level biology students. Each summer we host an internship program for currently enrolled or recently graduated college students in the biological sciences. Donations help to fund both of these student opportunities.
Alternative Income Projects
Sea Turtle, Inc. uses public donations to help fund alternative resource projects around the world. Developing small industries in coastal communities historically dependent on poaching sea turtles and their eggs provides a long-term economic alternative. Some of these alternative items are available to purchase through our online gift shop.
The ceramics and coconut jewelry projects help fund the conservation of the Kemp's ridley sea turtle. The plastic purses from Costa Rica and glass beads from Trinidad are in place to aid the Leatherback sea turtle.
We are currently funding three conservation projects around the world:
Here on South Padre Island, Sea Turtle, Inc. and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service fund the Kemp’s ridley project. This is a bi-national effort that has been in effect since the mid 1970’s. The main nesting beach for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is located within Tamaulipas, Mexico (about 200 miles from the TX/MEX border). Each summer, from April-August we patrol the beaches for nesting Kemps’ ridley turtles. The eggs are incubated in a corral and then the hatchlings are released back into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Michoacán project is a partnership of Sea Turtle, Inc., Gladys Porter Zoo, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, University of Michoacana and the Michoacán Government. The goal of this project is to conserve the nesting black sea turtles and their eggs. The local villages of Colola and Maruata now actively protect the nesting females from poachers and relocate the eggs into corrals for incubation.
In Guyana, South America, Sea Turtle, Inc. and the World Wildlife Fund are partnering up to help the Leatherback sea turtle. Along Shell Beach, leatherbacks come ashore to lay their eggs each year. The local Arawak community now protects the Leatherback, Green and Hawksbill sea turtles which nest on their beaches. Funding is needed to help educate the local children about the environment and local species of wildlife.
We are home to "Allison", the first sea turtle in the world to use a successful prosthetic!