World’s rarest sea turtle lays eggs on new Galveston beach



A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, the world’s rarest and most endangered sea turtle species, recently made the Galveston shoreline its home, laying eggs on a new beach near the corner of Seawall and 86th Street. 

This rare sea turtle species—which also happens to be the official state turtle of Texas—has lost nesting habitats due to storms, high tide and predation, said Dr. Christopher Marshall, a professor of marine biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston, in a conversation with ABC 13. “The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is one of the most endangered sea turtle species in the world, so every egg matters.” 

Staff from Texas A&M's Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research uncover a clutch of eggs laid by a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle—the world’s rarest and most endangered sea turtle species—on a new beach near the corner of Seawall and 86th Street.
Staff from Texas A&M’s Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research uncover a clutch of eggs laid by a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle—the world’s rarest and most endangered sea turtle species—on a new beach near the corner of Seawall and 86th Street.

USACE

The nesting was reportedly possible thanks to a beach “renourishment” project launched by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in partnership with the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, the City of Galveston and the Texas General Land Office. Since 2015, the USACE has routinely transferred fresh sand dredged from the Galveston Channel primarily to an area along the Galveston shoreline known as Babe’s Beach, according to a recent news release.


While the routine dredging keeps the channel deep enough for large ships to pass through, and creates more beach space for people to enjoy, the creation of the nesting habitat for sea turtles was an unintentional benefit, said Chris Frabotta, operations chief for the district, in the release. 

“This is all done in keeping the Corps of Engineers’ navigation mission to provide safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally sustainable navigation channels for the movement of commerce,” Frabotta said. “We’re really proud to know the dredging and sand placement is doing more than creating recreational opportunities for Galveston but also benefiting local marine life by creating more nesting grounds for a critically endangered species.”

A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle—the world’s rarest and most endangered sea turtle species—nests on a new beach near the corner of Seawall and 86th Street.
A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle—the world’s rarest and most endangered sea turtle species—nests on a new beach near the corner of Seawall and 86th Street.

USACE

Theresa Morris, rehabilitation manager at Texas A&M’s Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research, said in the release that the new beach has no historical records of nests occurring. Whenever turtles do nest in Galveston, Morris said she and her team take the clutch—or eggs in a nest—to the Padre Island National Seashore for incubation and release “because almost all nests in the upper Texas coast zone would become inundated, crushed, or predated if left in place,” she said. “We are very excited about this event as this project brought new nesting habitat to an endangered species.”

The most recent sand placement happened in 2021, with the next one scheduled for Babe’s Beach in April 2023, per the release. To date, USACE has placed about 1.7 million cubic yards of sand onto Babe’s Beach. 

The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle appears to be making a Texas comeback. In June, the rare sea turtle species also laid eggs on the shores of Magnolia Beach for the first time ever. 





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