Gulf of Mexico
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TX - Matagorda Bay turtle hatching surprises scientists

About 45 endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles hatched on the shore of Magnolia Beach on Monday, surprising scientists.

The beach, about 7 miles southeast of Port Lavaca, was a surprising location, according to a Texas A&M University sea turtle biologist, because it’s near Matagorda Bay and not along the Gulf of Mexico.

The hatchlings were discovered by maintenance workers cleaning up trash from the beach.

The sea turtle biologist, Pamela Plotkin, director of the Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M, said Magnolia Beach is not a common spot for sea turtles to hatch.

“Sea turtles typically nest on barrier island beaches in Texas, and so seeing a turtle nest on a beach inside any bay is rare,” she said. “There are many miles of unpopulated bay shoreline along Texas’ coast, so it is possible that sea turtle nesting on these shores is more frequent and undetected.”

The turtles were discovered by maintenance workers Zach Padron and Jason Gonzalez of the Calhoun County Precinct 1 commissioner’s office, according to a news release. Padron and Gonzalez were picking up trash on the beach when they noticed about 25 newly hatched turtles heading away from the water.

Newly hatched turtles typically make their way toward water as quickly as possible, trying to avoid predators and pollutants, according to the news release. Padron, who had learned from wildlife shows on television that young turtles are at risk of being caught by seagulls, knew the creatures needed to change course.

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