A New Calling

Many years ago, South Padre Island was a nesting haven for at least two species of sea turtles; the Loggerhead and the Kemp’s ridley. However, due to Man, coyotes, and other natural predators, the sea turtle population on the island was depleted, and for a long time there was no evidence of their nestings.

In 1963, members of the Valley Sportsman Club decided to make an effort to restore the sea turtles to the beaches of South Padre Island. Since female sea turtles return to the beaches where they were hatched, the club realized that they needed to establish a nesting rookery on the island for the Kemp’s ridley. There were two reasons that the Kemp’s ridley was chosen.

Firstly, the Kemp’s ridley was soon to be extinct. Secondly, there was only one known rookery in the world for this particular Ridley, and that rookery was located on a barren stretch of beach named Rancho Nuevo in Mexico . Rancho Nuevo was located across the border about fifty miles north of Tampico and, fortunately, was not too far from South Padre Island.

Sea turtle nests at Rancho Nuevo 1960s
Sea turtle nests at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico in the mid-1960s

Sea turtle nests at Rancho Nuevo in the 1960s
Rancho Nuevo, Mexico ~ 1960s

Turtle Lady Legacy Banner