The Sea Turtles and Their People

My friend asked me the other day what my favorite part of my internship had been. I, of course, said the sea turtles and the hatchlings. But I was wrong. The people I have met during my time at Padre Island National Seashore (PAIS) have been some of the most devoted, compassionate, and interesting individuals. They have been my favorite part of this internship. I met some incredible Latinx people and connected with them over shared backgrounds, interests, and love for food. They made me feel welcomed and seen. The people I met and befriended in my short time at the national seashore came from all over the country, and for all sorts of reason end up working at PAIS. Some have already finished their seasonal job at the park while other are leaving later in the year. Sea turtles, especially the Kemp’s ridley, brought us to the PAIS and the sea turtles will keep us connected no matter where we all end up next.

Kemp’s ridley hatchlings

With tears in my eyes, I released some baby Kemp’s ridley sea turtles yesterday evening. The hatchlings who are a little smaller than my the palm of my hand did not fully open their eyes until the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico caressed their bodies. One by one, they flapped their tiny flippers venturing into the vast openness of the ocean. We do not know if they will survive out there. I don’t know how far they will make it or for how long they will enjoy their time in the warm waters. I wish I could hold them in my hand until they were big enough to swim away from danger. I know I can’t do that. I do know, however, that we all hope they make it and grow into adults. Hopefully the female Kemp’s ridley will return to the narrow beaches of PAIS to nest. We will all root for those hatchlings too.
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