4/30/2010 Update - 33 Kemp's ridleys found dead on Texas beaches.
Federal officials and conservationists are concerned about unusually
large numbers of dead Kemp's ridley turtles that have washed up on
beaches along the upper Texas Gulf Coast since April 1.
stranded Kemp's ridley turtles, most of them dead, were found in a zone
stretching roughly from Galveston Island to Sabine Pass, said Donna
Shaver, Texas coordinator for the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage
Network. Shrimping activity has increased at the beginning of the
Kemp's ridleys nesting season on the Upper Texas Coast.
In an April 23
article in the Houston Chronicle, "Shaver said that most strandings
usually occurred along the lower Gulf Coast, which is closer to the
prime turtle nesting grounds in Rancho Nuevo, Mexico. Shaver and Dr.
Roger Zimmerman of the National Marine Fisheries Service said there
could be several explanations for the large number of turtle deaths,
including an unusually large number of turtles being attracted to a food
source in the area. The large number of deaths could also reflect a
rebound in the Kemp's ridley population, Zimmerman said. As their
numbers increase, more will run afoul of fishing nets, predators, boat
propellers or debris, he said."
director of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project's Gulf office, blames the
increase of shrimping activity which has been identified as the primary
cause of sea turtle deaths. "The shrimp industry has had 20 years to
learn how to use Turtle Excluders and get rid of lawbreakers who give
them a bad name," Allen said.
The Chronicle story written by Harvey Rice quotes one shrimper
named Cooly Nguyen saying that "Nobody likes TEDs on the nets. Save
the turtles? For what? The turtle is just an animal. Let the turtle go
"The increase in
Kemp's ridley deaths at the start of the nesting season is a tragic
commentary and shows that constant law enforcement is needed to make
sure shrimpers follow the law," said Allen. "The new Kemp's Ridley
Recovery Plan must also recognize that the Upper Texas Coast sees many
migrating, foraging and nesting sea turtles and must be given much more
Click here to download the April 23 Houston Chronicle article.
Click here to take action and call for increased protections on upper Texas sea turtle nesting beaches.