For the Love of Turtles: Slow Down!

A Kemp's ridley mama crosses in front of a parked Jeep during nesting season 2008. Sea Turtle, Inc. photo.

A Kemp's ridley mama crosses in front of a parked Jeep during nesting season 2008. Sea Turtle, Inc. photo.

By Teresa Shumaker 

May and June is the height of nesting season for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle on Texas and Mexican beaches. The adult sea turtle’s shell is pale and can easily blend in with the sand, which makes it imperative that driver’s on the beach obey the 15 m.p.h. speed limit on the county beaches.

It takes a lot of energy for the sea turtles, which are not adapted for land, to traverse the beach beyond the high tide line to lay their eggs. Because of that, it can take a while for a sea turtle to cross the beach and sometimes they can stop in the middle of the “road” to catch their breath.

Kemp's ridleys are unique amongst sea turtles; they are the only ones who nest during the day. But Atlantic greens and loggerheads — who are night-time nesters — sometimes nest on SPI beaches, too. It is equally important to exercise caution both day and night.

Sea Turtle, Inc. has patrollers scanning 50 miles of South Texas beaches to find, then to relocate the nests to a corral, away from predators.

The public plays a big part in the stewardship of this endangered species by driving safely and slowly on the beaches and alerting STI when they see a nesting sea turtle.

The fines for striking a sea turtle are steep, and if it is a mother Kemp’s ridley, the fine is multiplied for each turtle — the mother and each egg.

So far, 14 nests have been discovered and are estimated to begin hatching as early as June 15. When the nests get close to hatching, we posts updates to its Facebook and Twitter accounts and sends emails to its members.

And remember, please drive slowly and if you see a sea turtle on the beach, please call Sea Turtle, Inc. at 956-761-4511.