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How (and Why) to See a Sea Turtle Hatchling Release in Texas

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The release of any creature into its natural habitat would be an amazing site to see, but the release of baby turtle hatchlings from Padre Island is absolutely wonderful. The species which most often nests in Texas is considered critically endangered, and therefore their hatchlings are monitored and protected as best as possible. This, along with two to three additional species make their nests in the sandy shores off South Padre Island, and with some helpful answers to questions the average tourist might have, the National Park Service (NPS) shares some great tips about the opportunities you have to witness a public release here in Texas. Hatchlings will normally take twenty to forty-five minutes to make it across the beach and into the water, which allows plenty of time for all to have a good view. At the same time, park rangers and trained volunteers will also bring hatchlings around for visitors to get a closer view. However, no flash photography is allowed (as bright flashes will disorient them.)

How (And Why) To See A Sea Turtle Hatchling Release in Texas

Photo: Pixabay

Typically happening between mid-June and August, many hatchling releases are open to the public, taking place at 6:45 a.m. on Malaquite Beach. The NPS advises that most GPS units and today’s smartphone mapping apps do not locate the park and beach accurately, so they’ve provided a handy detailed map and directions on their website along with public hatchling schedules (when current). The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the rarest of the hatchling species, considered critically endangered, and this is the one which is found nesting most often in Texas.

How (And Why) To See A Sea Turtle Hatchling Release in Texas

Photo: Pixabay

Due to the fact that not all hatchling releases are public, nor do they occur daily or on a regular basis, the NPS does its best to provide approximate schedules based on estimated “due dates” (similar to babies being born). Each nest that is found is given a range of dates through which the service feels the nest is likely to hatch. That also helps them to provide a Current Nesting Season web page to allow visitors to see the current number of nests and when they’re anticipated to hatch. Since the 2016 season has come and gone, this page is expected to be updated as we get closer to nest location and due date determination.

How (And Why) To See A Sea Turtle Hatchling Release in Texas

Photo: Wikimedia

When several nests are due to be hatched around the same time, your chances of witnessing a sea turtle hatchling release are improved. If you’re planning a longer-term visit to the area, the NPS has also provided a Hatchling Hotline at (361) 949-7163 for your convenience, or you can also visit their website to learn the latest information on scheduled public releases.