• Aerial View of Padre Island National Seashore

    Padre Island

    National Seashore Texas

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  • Park Phone issues

    The visitor center main phone line and fax line are not working. To reach the park visitor center, call (361) 949-8069. Fax to (361) 949-7091, Attention: Visitor Center. We apologize for the inconvenience.

  • Bird Island Basin Campground rehabilitation starts August 18, 2014

    The second part of a project to repair facilities and rebuild eroded shoreline at Bird Island Basin Campground begins August 18. Minor disruptions of activities in the immediate area may occur. None of the work should affect use of the boat ramp.

Nesting and Satellite Tracking of Kemp's Ridley Turtles

Kemp's ridley returning to sea with a transmitter attached.

Kemp's ridley sea turtle returning to sea with a transmitter attached.

NPS photo

During 2011, satellite transmitters were deployed on 10 Kemp's ridley turtles that nested at Padre Island National Seashore. Movements of these turtles will be studied to address the scientific and conservation objectives described below. Additionally, movements will be monitored in relation to the distribution of oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Many of the turtles that were monitored during the 1997-2008 tracking study entered waters offshore from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the west coast of Florida.

During each year from 1997-2008, satellite transmitters were attached to the backs of a few Kemp's ridley turtles that nested on North Padre Island or Mustang Island, Texas. Movements of 34 individual adult females were monitored. Forty-three transmitters were deployed; two turtles received transmitters during three different nesting seasons, five received transmitters during two different nesting seasons, and 27 received one. Of the 34 individuals, 23 were from the wild stock, 9 were head-started turtles (reared in captivity for the first months of life) that had been imprinted to Padre Island as hatchlings, and 2 were head-started turtles that had been obtained directly from Mexico as hatchlings.

Kemp's ridley turtles nest an average of 2.5-3.0 times per nesting season. Movements were tracked as a means to predict where and when the turtles might nest again, to aid with nest detection. They were also tracked to determine where the turtles go between successive clutches (inter-nesting) in a nesting season and after they have completed nesting for the year (post-nesting), to help identify habitats used in the Gulf of Mexico.

Locations were obtained from 9 to 841 days following deployment. Transmissions ceased when the transmitters failed or fell off.

After they completed nesting for the season, most of the tracked turtles left south Texas and traveled northward, parallel to the coastline, with their last identified location in the northern or eastern Gulf of Mexico. Inter-nesting residency was documented off south Texas and post-nesting residency in U.S. Gulf of Mexico waters from south Texas to the tip of Florida. Movements and habitat utilization by wild and head-started turtles and by individuals during different tracking events were generally similar. However, all of the 6 turtles that briefly traveled southward to waters off the coast of Mexico were wild. Tracking data were used to aid with nest detection and protection, and development of a regulation by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that closed near-shore south Texas water to shrimp trawling. Findings from this study demonstrate the importance of near-shore Gulf of Mexico waters, particularly offshore from south Texas, to nesting Kemp's ridley turtles.

Tracking maps from the later project years can be viewed at www.seaturtle.org/tracking/ under the Padre Island National Seashore Kemp's ridley project.

Did You Know?

NPS arrowhead

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