The Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery

A Kemp's ridley sea turtle with an older satellite transmitter on her shell nests on Padre Island.
A female Kemp's ridley fitted with a satellite transmitter as part of a research project.

NPS Photo.

Scientific Research

A primary goal of the program is to conduct scientific research. Sea turtles spend 99% of their lives in the water and can travel thousands of miles. Their migratory habits make it difficult to conduct research on population dynamics, foraging habits, and critical habitat. Scientific research can help reveal this information and lead to actions that help save sea turtles.

Research conducted by the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery staff includes satellite tracking Kemp's ridley and other sea turtle species, analyzing effects of egg incubation temperatures on sex ratios of hatchlings, and juvenile green sea turtle studies. The research is part of global efforts to conserve sea turtles and could not be done without local, state, national, and international partners.

Information gained from research is published and applied here at the park to help sea turtles. Staff work with other entities involved in sea turtle conservation to share information that will help improve methods used to protect and conserve sea turtles.

Learn about these projects and more on our research page.

Park Ranger rescuing a cold stunned sea turtle.
Division staff rescuing a cold stunned sea turtle.

NPS Photo.


Another goal of the program is to conduct activities that directly help protect, conserve, and recover sea turtle populations. Each summer, staff and volunteers patrol beaches in search of nesting sea turtles and nests. Females found nesting are protected while on the beach, and nests found are moved to protected areas that are safe from predators, vehicular traffic, and other hazards. Nests are protected and monitored until they hatch; then the hatchlings are released. When conditions allow, the public is invited to attend hatchling releases. Division staff members work with partners to help support nesting patrols along the Gulf Coast, provide technical assistance and training, and coordinate these efforts along the beaches of Texas and Mexico. The Division collaborates with partners to collect, maintain, and analyze nesting records for all sea turtle nests found in Texas.

Division staff and volunteers respond to reports of stranded sea turtles as part of the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network (STSSN). If alive, stranded sea turtles are taken to rehabilitation facilities operated by one of our partners. If dead, stranded sea turtles are documented, examined, and often salvaged for research purposes. Division staff provide training, technical assistance, and support to partners involved in STSSN efforts in Texas. They also collaborate with these partners to collect, maintain, and analyze all Texas stranding records.

When severe cold weather events occur during the winter, Division staff and volunteers patrol the shores and waters of the Laguna Madre to find and rescue cold stunned sea turtles. With the help of many partners, cold stunned turtles are rescued, rehabilitated, and released. Division staff collaborate with these partners to receive, maintain, and analyze records of cold stunned turtles in Texas.

Hatchling at a hatchling release.
A tiny Kemp's ridley hatchling, just a few hours old, crawls to the ocean.

NPS Photo.

Public Awareness

A major goal of the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery program is to promote public awareness of and support for sea turtles and their conservation. Sea turtles can travel to and be affected by human activities in many different countries around the world. This website and Facebook page are important tools that can effectively reach many thousands of people around the globe to raise awareness about sea turtles and their plight. We cannot save sea turtles without the help and support of local communities, global citizens, and visitors like you.

Public hatchling releases offer rare opportunities to see live, newly hatched sea turtles up close. Volunteers and Park Rangers provide bring hatchlings around to visitors for close-up views and no-flash photos. Visitors watch as hatchlings crawl across the beach and swim off into the Gulf of Mexico. For some, it is a life-changing experience.


Last updated: May 14, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 181300
Corpus Christi, TX 78480


(361) 949-8068
Malaquite Visitor Center information line.

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