Kemp’s Ridley is the smallest, rarest, and thereby most endangered sea turtle in the world. It’s estimated that there are merely 7,000 – 9,000 nesting females in existence. The very special sea turtle can be found at South Padre Island in Texas. Here, the highly endangered species just made big waves by laying a big batch of 80 eggs.
Named after Florida fisherman, Richard M. Kemp, the Kemp’s Ridley is a rare species of sea turtle that largely inhabits the Gulf of Mexico – largely here being an inopportune word. As the smallest turtle species in the world it is also the most endangered; it was officially labeled as endangered of extinction back in 1970 and almost went completely extinct in the ’80s.
Recently, the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research, a Texas-based non-profit conservation organization, announced their findings of a nest of Kemp’s Ridley eggs.
“We have our first nest of the 2023 sea turtle nesting season! This morning, a critically endangered Kemp’s ridley nested on Surfside Beach,” the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research wrote in an Instagram post. “Thank you to the public caller who alerted our permitted responders. She laid 80 eggs and safely returned to the water!”
The photos that accompanied the post showed the mother returning safely to the water. The organization also encourages those in the area to report sightings of tracks, turtles, or nesting signs to this number: 1-866-TURTLE 5 hotline.
According to the Sea Turtle Conservatory website, the greatest threat to the Kemp’s Ridley is from “human use activities including collection of eggs and killing adults and juveniles for meat and other products. The significant decline in the number of Kemp’s ridley nests was a result of high levels of incidental take by shrimp trawlers.”
The Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research stated that nests on the beach area are vulnerable to high tides, as well as predators, therefore officials take nests to the Padre Island National Seashore incubation facility where they are protected with the hatching rate of hundred percent.