Hatchling Season Has Begun!

 

Story by Teresa Shumaker, Photos by Jim Lowenstein.

The first nests of the 2015 season hatched and were released this week. Five nests in total have hatched, with more on their way soon! On Monday, June 22, about 70 turtle fans attended the first public release to cheer the babies on.

Now, hundreds of young sea turtles are swimming with all their might to make it to the floating sargassum mats several miles offshore.

A few nests emerged in the middle of the night, so staff released them in the pitch dark far north of South Padre Island City. At the second release on Wednesday, June 24, hundreds arrived to send the hatchlings off. The presence of so many people is important because it helps keep predators, such as gulls, from preying on the turtles.

The challenges the hatchlings face are extreme and many might not make it. Less than two inches in diameter, these small reptiles can easily be picked off by predators, or drown in tumultuous surf. Once they reach the safe cover of the sargassum, they will stay hiding from predators until they are bigger and not such an easy meal.

To learn more about where the hatchling turtles will go now that they are in the ocean, take a look at Theresa Madrigal’s article about Kemp’s ridley migration on our website.

And make sure to bookmark our hatchcam page so you can share the experience!


How to attend a hatchling release!

Not all hatchling releases are open to the public. Hatchlings can only be released when they are in an active state (known as a frenzy). When the hatchlings frenzy in the middle of the night, the hatchlings are released on the isolated northern beaches by trained staff members. These releases are not open to the public. When they frenzy at dawn, we host a public release. Usually, notice for public releases is an hour and a half before the release.

Public releases are held at dawn, between 6:30 to 7 a.m., when the hatchlings frenzy after 5 a.m.
The release is located at County Beach Access 3 (approximately ½ mile north of Sea Turtle, Inc).
Hatching dates are ESTIMATED… only the hatchlings can decide when they are ready to go!

If you are coming to town specifically to see a hatchling release, please select a range of dates where several nests are due to hatch. This will increase your chances of seeing an early morning release. We post estimated hatching dates on the “nest activity page” and the “about releases page,” so you can plan your trip accordingly.

To find out if there will be an early morning public release, please check our Facebook and Twitter page for any updates, or call the Sea Turtle, Inc. Hatchling Hotline AFTER 10 p.m. The recording will tell you when a public release is expected. The recording is updated between 5:30 to 6 a.m. that morning with a definite yes or no. (If you are a member you will get email and text message notifications.)