The Heartbreak Turtle Today
The story of the dramatic recovery of the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Heartbreak Turtle Today documentary features the story of the dramatic recovery of the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle in the Gulf of Mexico. Illegal poaching at nesting beaches in Mexico and deadly shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico cut the estimated 47,000 nesters to less than 500 nesting females in 1985, nearly driving them to extinction. Scientists also attribute their decline to coastal habitat destruction and the massive 1979 Ixtoc oil spill in Mexico offshore their main nesting beach. Thanks to grassroots conservation efforts, modifications to shrimp trawl fisheries, and bi-national efforts to protect nesting beaches, the Kemp’s ridley population has slowly grown. The devastation and uncertainty for the future of the Kemp’s ridley following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are captured in vivid footage, photographs, and interviews.
Click here to obtain a copy of The Heartbreak Turtle Today DVD!
Teachers and educators, click here to download the Teacher's Handbook and Study Guide companions to the DVD.
The Kemp’s ridley, also known as the Heartbreak turtle, is the smallest and the most critically endangered of the world’s seven species of sea turtles. Their entire population nests within the Gulf of Mexico, primarily in Mexico and along Texas beaches. The Kemp’s ridley earned the name Heartbreak turtle when fishermen witnessed them dying while on their backs, and said that they had died of “a broken heart.”
The Heartbreak Turtle Today was produced as a sequel to the documentary The Heartbreak Turtle, which was completed and aired on public television in 1979. The Kemp’s ridleys were near extinction in the aftermath of a massive oil spill.
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began on April 20, 2010 occurred in the middle of production for The Heartbreak Turtle Today. Devastating images, dramatic footage, and emotional interviews capture this tragedy and the horrific consequences many fear it will have on the recovery of sea turtle populations in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Heartbreak Turtle Today was filmed, edited, and co-produced by Sunset Productions, a Houston-based production company that worked for two years traveling to South Padre Island, Texas; Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi, Texas; and Galveston, Texas; and Rancho Nuevo, along the Mexico Gulf Coast.
The following acclaimed grassroots sea turtle conservation advocates, expert scientists, and government officials working tirelessly to help sea turtles are featured in The Heartbreak Turtle Today:
• Carole Allen
Gulf Office Director, Sea Turtle Restoration Project
Founder, Help Endangered Animals Ridley Turtles (HEART)
• Pat Burchfield, Ed.D., M.Sc.
U.S. Field Group Coordinator FWS, Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles Binational Project
Executive Director, Gladys Porter Zoo
• Charles W. Caillouet, Jr., Ph.D.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Marine Fisheries (Retired)
• Andre M. Landry, Jr. Ph.D.
Director, Sea Turtle and Fishery Ecology Research Laboratory
Texas A&M University at Galveston
• Donna Shaver, Ph.D.
Chief, Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Division, Padre Island National Seashore
Texas Coordinator, Sea Turtle Stranding, National Park Service – Padre Island
• Peter Pritchard, Ph.D.
President, Chelonian Research Institute
• A.F. “Tony” Amos
Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK)
• Jack Woody
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Retired)
• Joe Flanagan, DVM
Director, Veterinary Services, Houston Zoo
• Roger Zimmerman, Ph.D.
Laboratory Director, National Marine Fisheries Service, Galveston Laboratory
Watch The Heartbreak Turtle Today to learn about other ways individuals and organizations from the United States and Mexico are working to prevent the Kemp’s ridley populations from further decline. To receive your own copy, click here.