Ridley's Recruits

Returning turtles are to receive a helping hand

Turtle experts say it's possible that there are undiscovered nests along Galveston's shore. So the project to rebuild the beach could add layers of sand over the nests, trapping the baby turtles trying to crawl toward the ocean.

The General Land Office wanted to have the sand replenishment project finished by the end of July, but has decided to wait until fall. "It really is important to us not to crush turtles to rebuild the beach," says agency spokesman Suydam. A meeting will be held this month at Galveston city hall to discuss the project's revisions.

In the meantime, the land office plans to train the turtle patrol for Galveston beaches. "We have to have people walking the beach every day looking for turtles or signs of turtles -- in case there were eggs nobody noticed," Suydam says.

A Kemp's ridley burrows in the sand to lay eggs.
Carlos Hernandez
A Kemp's ridley burrows in the sand to lay eggs.

Suydam says there's a one-day turtle patrol training course, but no one has signed up to attend yet. The agency is still developing the plan, with no decision made yet on whether the patrols would be paid staff or volunteers. "We're not exactly sure how we're going to do this," Suydam says.

Meanwhile, Allen is hunting for volunteer turtle searchers on her own. (Those interested can e-mail her at carole@seaturtles.org.) "We're gonna need to see a few more sea turtles before we can get people excited about going up and down the beach for hours every day," she says. "That's what it takes: constant, loyal patrolling and looking."

If more turtles nest over the long term, she says, there may be a turtle protection program modeled after Padre Island someday. That would presumably require the services of a Cheeto-thrower heaving snacks to seagulls, ones with orange-tinged beaks.

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