Sea Turtle Releases

Sea Turtle, Inc.'s facility serves as a rehabilitation center for sick and injured sea turtles. Each year we rescue and rehabilitate 40 to 100+ sea turtles with the goal of returning these turtles to the wild. We also monitor about 50 miles of beach in the spring and summer searching for nests. The nests are then relocated and protected in a special corral until the turtles hatch and are ready for release. Below is some information about all types of releases we have at Sea Turtle, Inc.

Tag and Release

Sea Turtle, Inc. participates in the Cooperative Marine Turtle Tagging Program (CMTTP) which is  a centralized program to manage tagging data and facilitate exchange of tag information. Each rehabilitated sea turtle that returns to the wild (that meets the size requirements) is outfitted with two types of tags; a Passive Intergrated Transponder (PIT) tag and a metal Inconel (flipper) tag.  Each tag has a unique serial number which allows the turtle to be easily identified in case of future stranding, nesting, or re-capture. This data can be used by researchers to study possible migration routes and growth rates of the turtle. Additionally, in nesting females, the tags allow us to record which beaches an individual momma uses to nest and how often they come up to lay eggs.

Applying PIT TagFlipper TagApplying Flipper Tag

Flipper Tags

Flipper tags are metal tags that are attached to the outside of a turtles flipper by a special tool. The tags can be applied to different flippers, depending on what beach the turtle comes from. Sea Turtle, Inc. tags rehabilitated turtles on the left front and left back flipper. The serial number on the tag is clearly visible to the naked eye.


PIT Tags

PIT tags are small microchips (about the size of a grain of rice) that must be inserted with a special applicator. They are a subcutaneous chip, which means it sits under the skin of the turtle. To check for this tag, you need a special PIT tag scanner. This scanner can pick up the presence of a tag and allow us to read the unique serial number on the tag. It is placed in the same flipper as the metal tag.

PIT and flipper tags are useful in identifying individual sea turtles, however, they are not satellite tags and do not track the turtles. Satellite tags are applied to sea turtles to track specific migration paths and determine habitats, feeding grounds, and nesting beaches for sea turtles. Sea Turtle, Inc. has had a few turtles from our facility satellite tagged. For their migratory paths (and other sea turtle tag information) click HERE!


Types of Releases

To receive text message and email invitations to our public hatchling releases, become a member!

We also post on our Facebook page when releases are scheduled to happen. Most releases are scheduled a few days ahead of time — but hatchling releases are an exception. Hatchling releases are scheduled last minute, whenever the young sea turtles are ready to go. Read more below to learn more about each type of release.


Public Boat Release

Public Boat Releases

Juvenile green sea turtles inhabit the shallow waters of the Laguna Madre Bay area. We release green turtles into South Bay. This area has plenty of sea grass beds which is their favorite food. These releases are done in partnership with American Diving, a dive and dolphin watch company on South Padre Island. These releases are open to the public. Cruises are usually 1.5-2 hours and consist of the turtle release and a dolphin watch. Click here to see a boat release video.


Offshore Release

Offshore Releases

Hawksbills, adult greens, juvenile Kemp's ridleys and loggerheads are released offshore. They are taken to an area with suitable habitat, depending on the species. Sometimes we take them to an area where there is a known strong current or a good patch of sargassum. These releases are done in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and  are not open to the public.



Beach Release


Public Beach Releases

Adult loggerhead and Kemp's ridley sea turtles are allowed to walk down the beach on South Padre Island. These releases are typically held in Isla Blanca County Park. Please make sure to check for the exact release location within the park, because the location changes depending on ocean conditions and turtle needs. Click here to see a beach release video.




2009 Hatchling ReleaseHatchling Releases

Public hatchling releases are held at 7:00 a.m. at County Beach Access 3 (approximately ½ mile north of Sea Turtle, Inc). Remember these dates are ESTIMATED… only the hatchlings can decide when they are ready to go! Hatchling season varies, depending on when the nests are laid. But usually nests begin hatching in June and the lasts nests are usually released in August.

Nesting season for 2015 has just begun! The first nest is estimated to hatch around June 15. Stay tuned for updates! 

How to see a Public Hatchling Release.

Public releases will be held when hatchlings frenzy in the early hours of the morning. 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 on the nest activity page estimated hatching dates, so you can plan your trip accordingly.

Not all hatchlings releases are open to the public. Hatchlings can only be released when they are in an active state (also known as a frenzy). When the hatchlings frenzy in the middle of the night, the hatchlings will be released up the beach by trained staff members. These releases are not open to the public.

To find out if there will be an early morning public release, please call the Sea Turtle, Inc. Hatchling Hotline AFTER 10 p.m. The recording will tell you when a public release is expected or planned. The recording will be updated from 5:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. to say a definite yes or no. If you cannot get through to our hotline, you can also check out our Facebook page for any updates. (And if you are a member you will get email and text message notifications, too.)