Ah the ocean! Its ability to calm and center me with its crashing waves, briny smell, and vastness always astounds me. I LOVE the ocean. That’s why I did not hesitate when I was invited by a fellow ocean lover to attend one of this years Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle releases on Malaquite Beach, on North Padre Island, Corpus Christi, Texas. You can visit their main page HERE.
The Gulf of Mexico can be a very harsh environment for many species to survive in, especially newly hatched babies, such as the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles. They are one of five different species of sea turtle in the Gulf of Mexico, and are considered to be the most endangered species of sea turtle. They are the smallest sea turtles, coming in at an average weight of around 100 lbs. (That is not small to me!) They have a diet of plants, crabs, and other marine invertebrates.
Most of the nesting of these turtles occur in Mexico, and in the U.S. they are mostly found along the Texas Coast.
The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle reaches maturity around 10 to 15 years of age. Every two years the female will come ashore and lay her eggs, which are called a “clutch”. Each clutch can have around 50 to 130 eggs, and each female can lay around 1 to 4 clutches of eggs. These eggs take 1 to 4 days to hatch. Male Ridleys spend their entire lives at sea. For more in-depth information visit HERE.
We arrived at the beach that morning at 6:30 am. The park rangers gave us some great information, then we headed out to the beach to split up into two groups to watch the releases.
Why do they make these little baby turtles fight their way across the beach to the ocean? It is a very import process. It is called “imprinting”. Releasing them on the beach, which mimics climbing out of the nest, imprints important factors such as the sand, air, water, and other environmental factors the babies will have “programmed” into their brains. This allows them to return to the beach where they “imprinted” and lay their own eggs when they are mature females. For more information check out the National Park Service’s Website.
It was a lot of fun watching the babies make their way to the ocean. They don’t have a huge survival rate, but I would like to think that most of them will make it. Afterwards, we camped out at the beach, frolicked in the waves, and had a wonderful time. It is a great memory that I wanted to share with you. Check out the last three babies making their way into the ocean below. Until next time…
Here is a small video of the very first baby sea turtle swimming into the ocean. Click Here