Nesting season for the endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtle begins April 3, a time when the turtles find their way to Padre Island to lay their eggs.
Thursday on the National Seashore, volunteers were getting some training before they hit the beaches looking for those nests; and surprisingly, people from across the state are stepping up to volunteer.
Those baby Kemp's Ridley turtles are making their way back in the Gulf of Mexico in record numbers. For 33 years, Dr. Donna Shaver has been working to get the creatures off the endangered list.
The plan has worked, because last year there were 209 nests found up and down our state coastline, but it takes an army of volunteers to spot those nests and then get the eggs to Shaver's newly expanded turtle incubation facility here at the National Seashore.
The facility has now doubled in size to try and keep up with a program that's so successful, people from across the state are signing up to train as a volunteer.
Melanie Johnson is from Johnson City, and plans on spending her summer vacation on patrol along our beaches.
"It makes you feel good," Johnson said. "Makes you feel like a part of something that's positive."
Leon Hananel is another of those volunteers from around the state. He lives in Donna, which is down in the Valley. A jeweler by trade, Hananel is ready to craft a new experience along our coastline.
"I don't know anything about turtles, to be honest with you, but I would love to be the first one to find a nest this season, you know," Hananel said. "Like I said, do some good."
That first nest could be discovered soon.
"Kemp's Ridley nesting has already begun in Mexico," Shaver said. "Typically they do begin in March. They begin a little bit earlier than us. We have found nests on the Texas coast as early as April, so it could be anytime within the next few days that nesting could begin here."
"I think she's doing a fantastic job saving the turtles," Hananel said. "Some people might think that it's nonsense, but I don't think so, so here I am."
Along with about 1,000 people who are now trained to look for nests, the first turtle patrols begin on April 3.
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