CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The first Kemp's Ridley sea turtle release of this nesting season took place Friday morning at the Padre Island National Seashore with more than 800 visitors in attendance.

A total of 61 Kemp's Ridley hatchlings were released.

More than 160 nests have been discovered along the Texas Coast so far this season. The release events always draw a number of visitors who want to see the hatchlings make a run for the water.

When Kemp's Ridley nesting sites are found the eggs are collected and cared for by Padre Island National Seashore staff. This protects them from predators and other threats like beach driving and high tides. Once the eggs have hatched and the hatchlings are ready to return to their natural environment, the turtles are released.

If you see Kemp's Ridley nesting sites or stranded sea turtles, be sure to call the turtle hotline at 1-866-887-8535.