After falling to near extinction in recent decades, experts say the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle is on the rebound. Turtle specialist Catherine Yeargen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Clear Lake says they've counted hundreds of turtle nests in Texas, and thousands more in Mexico.
"They had I believe in excess of 18 thousand nests down in Mexico. It's possible that the reason we're increasing up here is because they are doing so well in Mexico, and since the sea turtles are doing so well they're looking to expand their range."
Which means sea turtles will be nesting on beaches up and down the Texas coast over the next few months. Unfortunately, summer is coming on and they'll be competing with beachgoers. Yeargen says people can help the turtles by being very watchful and very careful where they walk and drive on the beach.
"Well, unfortunately these sea turtles will blend into the sand. One of the best things the public can do if they're driving on the beach is to drive very very slowly."
Yeargen says people who find turtle nests should steer clear and leave them alone.Î¾ It's a federal offense to bother them or take them.
"All sea turtles are either endangered or threatened. It's a violation of the Endangered Species Act to take, harass, harm, or any way alter the behavior of these sea turtles."
Yeargen says people can help with the nest count by reporting any nests they find to the Fish and Wildlife Service at 1-866-TURTLE 5.Î¾
Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.