Dash of the tiny turtles

About 175 Kemp’s ridley turtle hatchlings were released at Padre Island National Seashore early Wednesday morning, the first local public release of the endangered sea turtles this season.

Donna Shaver, National Park Service director of the sea turtle project, said that about 250 people gathered to watch the hatchling release, cheering for the first and last few tiny turtles that made their way into the Gulf of Mexico.

“It went very well,” Shaver said. “The turtles were active and crawled down the beach, entered the surf and swam away.”

This year a record 118 Kemp’s ridley turtle nests have been found along the Texas Gulf Coast, including 69 nests founds at Padre Island National Seashore. Shaver said the 118 nests represent the most found since record-keeping of the findings began in the 1980s.

Shaver said two loggerhead turtle nests also have been found at Padre Island National Seashore this year.

Shaver said she expects about 10 more public releases through the end of July.