For the turtles, be safe while driving on the beach

In late April, this nesting sea turtle was found at Cameron County Beach Access #5. The flags indicate that a nest has been found. Courtesy photo

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — From pollution and predators to incidental captures in fishing gear, sea turtles face a number of deadly threats.

Now through August, many nesting sea turtles will especially be facing those obstacles as they venture ashore the beaches of South Padre Island and Boca Chica Beach to lay their eggs during this nesting season.

One of Sea Turtle, Inc.’s latest patients is in critical condition and being cared for after her unfortunate attempt to nest.

On Sunday, a 70-pound endangered Kemp’s Ridley that had just come to shore to lay her eggs, was run over by a motor vehicle on the north end of the Island.

Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel said the incident occurred around 2:30 p.m. on county beach between mile marker 12 and 13.

According to Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel, one of the facility’s patrol officers and an intern witnessed the impact. They said they immediately provided aid and a description of the vehicle to game wardens.

Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel said that an unknown individual in a dark grey or light black truck that was driving fast on the beach struck the turtle.

According to Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel, it is a federal and state crime to injure or harass a sea turtle.

An investigation is still underway.

“There were other people on the beach when this happened,” said Sea Turtle, Inc. Executive Director Wendy Knight. “If anyone saw anything, or there were any witnesses that can give any more identification or information about the truck, we encourage them to call local authorities or the game wardens with that information.”

On Monday, Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel performed some procedures to try to help the nesting sea turtle’s fractures bind together.

“She’s done very well as part of that. It’s really an amazing story that she is doing as well as she’s doing,” Knight said. “At this point, we are cautiously optimistic.”

Before being hit by the vehicle, the nesting turtle had only laid one egg.

The egg has been placed in a corral and is being protected and cared for by Sea Turtle, Inc.

The single egg was named Nemo.

Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel said they will wait the next six weeks in hopes that Nemo hatches and survives this tragedy.

Knight said the nesting sea turtle still has a full clutch of eggs inside of her.

“You can see them in the x-ray so she’s very anxious to get back to where her body is telling her she needs to lay a nest,” Knight added. “We are trying to work as quickly as we can to get her stabilized and ready to go back into the water.”

Knight said this incident should remind the public how urgent it is for motorists to drive safely.

“When driving on Texas beaches, we all have an obligation to do so slowly not only to protect the families that enjoy our beaches but also endangered and protected sea turtles during this critical nesting season,” Knight said. “Now we can work diligently to treat and provide medical care to this nesting female in hopes that she can recover and nest for many seasons to come.”

To make a donation to Sea Turtle, Inc. or for more information about the facility, visit www.seaturtleinc.org.