Hundreds of endangered baby sea turtles released off Texas coasts
1:28 PM, Jul 26, 2010
PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, Texas - Hundreds of endangered baby sea turtles were released in the
Gulf of Mexico Monday.
Federal biologists hope by the time they get as far east as the
BP spill, the toxic oil will be under control.
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service
decided in June that Kemp's ridley turtles would be released off
the Texas coasts as usual, since the impact of the massive oil
spill has been minimal in Texas waters. Since then, between 7,000
and 8,000 baby Kemp's have been released.
The Kemp's loggerhead cousins are being moved to that state's
eastern coast so they aren't released directly into the oil's
Federal biologists say the turtles will be harmed if held in
captivity until the oil slick is cleaned.
But some are worried the turtles' recovery will suffer a major
setback due to the spill.
Kemp's ridley turtles have been on the endangered list since
Donna Shaver, the National Park Service's resident turtle expert
and 150 volunteers and other staff patrols Padre Island's beaches,
collecting the nests, incubating them and waiting for them to
hatch. Once they hatch, Shaver monitors them over night.
When the turtles start scratching that means they have entered
the critical "frenzy" stage and need to be released into the water
Beginning Sunday evening and throughout Monday night, groups of
hundreds of turtles scratched for Shaver. Some 1,000 Kemp's were
let loose throughout the night.
Volunteers raked the beaches to make the trek easier, held nets
and stood in the water with sticks to protect them from
"We don't just want to be feeding the birds and fish," Shaver
The decision to release the Kemp's was not easy, she said.
However, scientists have learned that holding turtles captive at a
critical developmental stage can be harmful, messing with their
navigation and foraging skills and possibly damaging their chances