Texas sees sharp drop in nesting sea turtles
The critically endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle had an offseason for nesting this year along Texas beaches, with 190 nests recorded in Texas.
HARLINGEN, Texas — The critically endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle had an offseason for nesting this year along Texas beaches, with 190 nests recorded in Texas.
The Valley Morning Star reports the number, which covers a geographic area from the Bolivar Peninsula south to Boca Chica beach, was down from 250 nests logged last year and 353 in 2017.
But this year's sharp drop-off in Kemp's ridley nesting in Mexico has set off yellow-flag alerts among scientists who track and study the species.
"Just to try and put things in a little perspective, 99% of the world population nests in Mexico," said Pat Burchfield, the executive director of the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville who has served as bi-national coordinator for the joint U.S.-Mexico Kemp's ridley recovery effort for four decades.
"And we were surprised at the low numbers," he added. "Basically, it was only about 40% of what nested in 2018 and '19."
The vast majority of Kemp's ridley turtles nest along three main beaches in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas — Rancho Nuevo, Tepehuajes and Barra del Tordo.
Burchfield stressed his nesting number of about 11,000 is unofficial since the Mexican government has yet to issue its final report for 2019.
"This season created more questions than answers," he said. "Because we've anticipated a lot of things that could happen and may happen and we may be seeing, but we don't have any empirical evidence to nail which things may be going on."