Current Nesting Season
Sea turtles are one of the most iconic and popular animals found at Padre Island National Seashore.
All five of the sea turtle species found in the Gulf of Mexico find something they need at the park and in its adjacent waters. Kemp's ridley sea turtles nest here more than at any other location in the U.S. Juvenile green sea turtles live in the waters here year-round, and adults nest on Padre Island in low numbers. Loggerhead sea turtles also nest in the park in low numbers and forage off shore. Leatherback sea turtles travel through the Gulf and historically nested here. Hawksbill sea turtles also travel through the area, finding food and rest along the way. All of these species are federally listed as either endangered or threatened. Padre Island National Seashore is the only location in Texas where nests from all five of these species have been found.
Our Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery, the only division of its kind in the National Park Service, works to monitor and protect these animals. In spring and summer, nesting turtles are protected, examined, and tagged. A few are tracked using satellite telemetry. Nests are moved to protected areas and monitored until they hatch. When possible the public is invited to watch newly hatched sea turtles make their way to the Gulf. Thousands of visitors and numerous media attend these public hatchling releases each year.
In winter, turtles that become cold stunned are rescued, rehabilitated by partners, and then released back into the Gulf. When possible, the public is invited to watch these cold stunned turtles get released. Stranded turtles found at any time of year, alive or dead, are rescued, examined, or collected. Other research projects are conducted periodically to learn more about how to help these rare and amazing reptiles.
Padre Island National Seashore and the National Park Service have been part of the story of the Kemp's ridley since the 1970s. The work conducted by the Seashore, led by Dr. Donna Shaver, is an important part of global efforts to save sea turtles. This work could not be accomplished without the help of many partners, volunteers, and communities. Find out how you can help save sea turtles and join us in ensuring these majestic creatures are around for future visitors to see.
Last updated: April 11, 2018