I was fortunate to attend the first hatchling release of the summer on Friday morning. My friend, Lindy, and I drove down before dawn to Padre Island National Seashore. Shortly after sunrise, the team released 58 adorable Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys kempii). They came from a nest that was laid on April 27th. In an effort to help this critically endangered species recover, all the eggs are removed from nests as soon as they are found and relocated to a protected hatchery.
It took about an hour for all of the babies to make it into the water. There is a reason the hatchlings aren’t just tossed into the sea. It is important that the turtles crawl their way across the sand towards the sun as part of their imprinting. Breeding females will later return to their home beach to lay their eggs. The small creatures slipped into the waves while weighing less than an ounce. The ranger affectionately referred to the tiny turtles as Oreos with flippers. It is estimated that only 1 in 1,000 will reach maturity. Best of luck little ones!