Turtles Ashore

turtle0The first sets of turtle tracks on Bolivar have been located for the season. The sea turtle nesting season runs from April 1st to July 15th. It’s time to keep a watchful eye out for our sea creatures as they begin venturing from the gulf waters to the dunes to bury their eggs. A county beach crew spotted the turtle tracks from the water to the dunes. And once the turtle patrol volunteers arrived on the scene, within minutes they came upon two other sets of tracks nearby. Recovery experts from Turtle Island Restoration Network were called to investigate the three sets of tracks. The three sets of tracks were made by the same turtle looking for the right nesting location.

Turtle Patrol volunteer Marlene Mallet standing next to a set of turtle tracks.

Turtle Patrol volunteer Marlene Mallet standing next to a set of turtle tracks.

Two of the tracks were determined to be “false crawls” in which the turtle abandons the area due to unfavorable conditions to lay eggs. But one track led the crew to the nest where they carefully uncovered and retrieved the eggs for safe protecting. The turtle will dig a nest about 12-18 inches deep to bury her eggs. She will then cover her eggs and pack the sand down with her body to resemble an untouched hole, making it difficult for the recovery team to locate the nest.

The turtle will dig a nest about 12-18 inches deep to bury her eggs.

The turtle will dig a nest about 12-18 inches deep to bury her eggs.

A total of 97 eggs were removed from the nest to be taken to Padre Island National Seashore. The eggs are removed to protect them from predators that will find them, dig them up, and destroy the eggs. However, once they are safeguarded for the 45 day incubation period, they have a 95% survival and hatch rate. After hatching, the turtles immediately crawl to the water.

Recovery experts from Turtle Island Restoration Network carefully uncovered and retrieved the eggs for safe protecting.

Recovery experts from Turtle Island Restoration Network carefully uncovered and retrieved the eggs for safe protecting.

All visitors and members of the community are asked to drive slowly and keep a look out for turtles and their tracks. They can sometimes blend in with the sand, so be cautious. And if you suspect turtle activity or tracks, call 1-866-TURTLE5 (1-866-887-8535). And for more information on Turtle Island Restoration Network, visit SeaTurtles.org and find them on Twitter, FaceBook, and YouTube.
[5-8-2017]

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