The Second Kemp’s Ridley Symposium

By Teresa Shumaker

On November 18 and 19, Brownsville was the host to the second Kemp’s Ridley Symposium.

The first one was held almost 30 years prior. The symposium was held again to gather leading researchers and scientists studying the Kemp’s ridley to address the issue of the species nesting decline since 2010.

STI involvement

Sea Turtle, Inc. was a financial sponsor, and our staff attended the event.  One of our interns from this summer, Hilary Frandsen, was invited to present her research regarding the ability (or inability) of hatchlings to move through tire ruts of various depths. One day, when the species recovers its numbers enough, we would not be able relocate all of the nests. The hatchlings in the nests left out in the wild will have to make their way to the ocean unassisted by our staff. Whether the hatchlings can traverse tire ruts will be a concern in the future, since Texas does not close the beaches to vehicle traffic during nesting and hatching season.

Frandsen was amongst 45 speakers during the two day symposium. Many were from the founding years of the Bi-National Kemp’s Ridley Recovery Team that controls actions and legislature to aid in the species recovery.

Symposium goal

The purpose of the symposium is to bring researchers together to share their information, spark ideas and aid the recovery team in making informed decisions to protect the Kemp’s ridleys.

“The general goal is to help the species recover,” said Jeff George, STI Executive Director. “So you learn what is being studied and what the results are and ideas on what to look for or study further.”

The symposium was scheduled two days before the Bi-National Kemp’s Ridley Recovery Team held its bi-annual meeting in Brownsville, to discuss current research and findings that can aid in legislative decisions for the ridleys.

Jeff George said the talks that sparked a lot of interest were the ones on population models that are trying to find the reason for the nesting decline over the past four years. Although there is a correlation to the BP oil spill, the exact details and effects on the Kemp’s ridley reproduction still need to be identified.

More research will be conducted and hopefully another symposium will be held in the near future to discuss the new findings.