Rare sea turtles make surprise appearances

For the first time in 75 years, biologists have spotted sea turtle hatchlings in Louisiana. The Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) hatchlings were found in the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Chandeleur Islands. Staff members with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries spotted the critically endangered sea turtles while working on an ongoing restoration effort in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and numerous tropical storms. Officials say the discovery will help shape future recovery plans for the species. 

“Louisiana was largely written off as a nesting spot for sea turtles decades ago, but this determination demonstrates why barrier island restoration is so important,” said CRPA Chairman Chip Kline. 

Earlier this year, biologists in Texas found Kemp’s ridley eggs on a beach in Galveston Island State Park where they had never been seen before. Wildlife rehabilitators excavated the clutch and transferred the eggs to Padre Island National Seashore for incubation and release, Houston’s ABC13 reported

“The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is one of the most endangered sea turtle species in the world, so every egg matters,” Christopher Marshall, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University at Galveston, told the station.

Read more from the CRPA and ABC13.

Header Image: Newly hatched Kemp's ridley sea turtles make their way to the Gulf of Mexico from Louisiana's Chandeleur Islands. Credit: Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority