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Island Report: One of the changes brought about on the island by the COVID-19 virus is how sea turtles are released at PINS

Over the years, many of you have gotten up early and driven out to the Padre Island National Seashore to watch the release of Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — One of the changes brought about on the island by the COVID-19 virus is how sea turtles are released at PINS. For years, large crowds in the thousands came to the national seashore to watch the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles make their dash into the surf. People came from all over the country to see this life-affirming ritual. 

All of that came to an abrupt stop this season as the coronavirus made the gathering of large crowds impossible. Dr. Donna Shaver was there and so were 144 hatchlings who made their run, but the crowds were not.

In 1963 Dr. Dana Hildebrand found a very famous film that showed thousands of turtles nesting on this one stretch of beach. Video was taken in 1947 and discovered in 1963 that began the Kemp's Ridley program that has now been under Dr. Shaver's direction for forty years. The idea was simple – don't put all of your turtle eggs in one basket.

"We in Corpus Christi have had a major role in preservation of this species for decades," Dr. Shaver said. 

This is the payoff. A long line of turtles winding their way to the sea. At least for now, they do it without a large audience. But the turtles don't seem to mind.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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