The Sea Turtles at Padre Island National Seashore

The breeze from the Gulf of Mexico makes humid clothes stick a little less to your body at Padre Island National Seashore (PAIS). The Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at PAIS is filled with passionate, hard-working, and enthusiastic people. From the volunteers all the way to the Chief of the Division Dr. Donna Shaver, everyone here wants to protect and save the sea turtles. Chaotic buzz erupts in the office on windy days, because the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles take the opportunity to nest without many predators. Those are the best days because it means that the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles have a better chance of getting off the endangered species list.

A nesting Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.

As a historian in a science division, everything is new to me. That is what makes this internship so exciting. When I saw my first sea turtle, I teared up. How could I not? They are magnificent creatures. They lay eggs in the holes they dug in the sand themselves. The biologists are quick to make sure they tag the sea turtle. This helps track it and provides information for further conservation, and education. Once the sea turtles are done laying their eggs, they do a little dance to cover up the eggs with sand before returning to the ocean. The biologist carefully scoops up the eggs and takes them into the incubation room until they are ready to hatch. That won’t happen for a few weeks.

Cynthia Rubio and myself.

Some people at the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery have dedicated almost their entire careers to this program. My supervisor, Cynthia Rubio, is one of them. Cynthia is an incredible human being and treats everyone with the respect they deserve. I am lucky to be working under such an amazing person. I have already learned so much about the turtle conservation program, and I hope to learn so much more.

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