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Critically endangered sea turtles hatch for first time on Texas beach

About 45 sea turtles were helped to the water after hatching on a beach in Texas.
About 45 sea turtles were helped to the water after hatching on a beach in Texas.(Emilee DeForest // Texas A&M College of Geosciences)
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 10:57 AM AKDT
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MAGNOLIA BEACH, Texas (Gray News) – A sea turtle nest with about 45 hatchling Kemp’s ridley eggs was discovered on a beach inside a bay in Texas.

“This has never happened in modern times,” said Dr. Pamela Plotkin, director of Texas Sea Grant and sea turtle biologist. “Sea turtles typically nest on barrier island beaches in Texas and so seeing a turtle nest on a beach inside any bay is rare.”

Eggs left on the beach only have about a 45% chance of hatching, according to Texas A&M College of Geosciences, but these turtles had help.

The university said the turtles were found by maintenance workers with the Calhoun County Commissioner’s Office while picking up trash on the beach.

They helped about 25 hatchlings to the water that were heading the wrong way.

The maintenance workers contacted Calhoun County Marine Extension Agent RJ Shelly who excavated the next, helping about 20 more turtles.

“Sure enough, once we started excavating, we saw more and more dig their way out,” Shelly said.

According to the university, Shelly and others supervised the hatching process to make sure the turtles safely made their way into Matagorda Bay.

“We let them imprint on the sand and then stood there while they made their run,” Shelly said.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are critically endangered, Texas A&M reports, adding that decades of efforts from scientists, conservationists and others have allowed the species to begin to recover.

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