HOUSTON, Texas — If you’re heading to the beach this weekend, you may not be alone.
Sea turtles have been busy along the Gulf Coast nesting on empty beaches.
Conservationists with the Turtle Island Restoration Network want to remind beachgoers to leave these turtles alone if you happen to spot one.
Joanie Steinhaus, program director for the Galveston office said, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are making their way to local beaches to lay their eggs.
“If you’re fortunate enough to see a sea turtle nesting go buy yourself a lottery ticket because you’re having a lucky day,” Steinhaus said.
It’s one of several sea turtle species that nest along the Texas coast.
She said people have been spotted getting too close to nesting turtles.
“We don’t see a lot of turtles up here but since this turtle is a critically endangered species, it’s very important to protect every female that comes to nest and every egg that is found in the nest cavity,” she said.
Steinhaus provided us with a video of beachgoers getting too close to one of these turtles as she’s trying to nest.
A woman even touched her as it headed back into the water.
Steinhaus said, “People need to be able to keep the distance from the turtle so that it’s able to go through the process of emerging through the Gulf, finding an area to dig and lay, dig the nest cavity, lay the eggs and return to the Gulf.”
Markings in the sand will let you know there’s a turtle or nest nearby.
Steinhaus said it’s best to stay at least 30 feet away.
“And so people run up to them and that motion of running up to them disturbs the sea turtle,” Steinhaus said.
These creatures are protected by state and federal laws so anyone who messes with them could face a fine.
If you spot a turtle nesting on the beach, you’re urged to call 1.866.TURTLE.5.
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