SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Another set of sea turtle hatchlings were active and ready bright and early in the morning to begin their journey in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel released approximately 51 Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchlings on Wednesday at Cameron County Beach Access #4.

While guided by a picturesque sunrise, each sea turtle set their own pace as they etched their way through the sand toward the ocean so they could get swept up into its large waves.

“It was wonderful. We always love the opportunity to do public releases,” Sea Turtle, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Wendy Knight said. “I think it’s such an important part of the education piece for us.”

Sea Turtle, Inc. held a public release for the Kemp’s ridley hatchlings and intern Regina Lobner live streamed the event on the facility’s Facebook page.

“This species is really incredible,” Lobner said. “Out of all the seven sea turtle species in the world, these are the most critically endangered and we on South Padre Island are one of the few places where they nest so we have an amazing opportunity to help protect all of these amazing little hatchling turtles that are coming out here on our beaches.”

According to personnel, turtles usually hatch in the middle of the night, however, sometimes they emerge as the sun is rising so that enables public releases.

Those interested in attending a public hatchling release are advised to check Sea Turtle, Inc.’s Facebook page daily during the season at 6 a.m. to see if another set of turtles have hatched.

“You’ll be able to see whether or not we’ll be posting about that hatchling release,” Lobner said. “You can also become a member and get text notifications as well to let you folks know when those turtles are going to be coming out.”

According to Knight, this has been a very hard year for the facility because of the pandemic and February’s cold-stun.

“I know we as a staff see the public releases and hatchling season as kind of rejuvenating,” Knight said. “It’s the full circle of what we’re here for and people are inevitably so excited. We have tears shed at every public release.”

Beginning in April, Sea Turtle, Inc. personnel have been patrolling the beaches of South Padre Island and Boca Chica Beach for nesting sea turtles.

“Our conservation team has been working hard all season to collect these eggs and keep them safe for us,” Lobner said. “These hatchling releases are very rewarding.”

As of Wednesday, Sea Turtle, Inc. has located 65 nests and 28 of those nests have hatched. Approximately, 2,470 hatchlings have been released by Sea Turtle, Inc. so far this season.

According to Knight, sea turtle eggs will continue hatching through the end of September.

“We’re about a little less than halfway through so it’s been a very busy season,” Knight said. “I think nesting season started a couple of weeks late this year, we believe probably because of the cold stun. It sent so many turtles back out farther into the ocean and we saw a couple of weeks delay.”

Nesting sea turtles are still coming on the beaches of South Padre Island to lay their eggs.

Beachgoers who come across a nesting sea turtle or nest are advised to immediately call Sea Turtle, Inc.’s 24/7 emergency hotline at (956) 243-4361.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Knight said. “We’re just glad to be able to have some happy things happening on the Island and at Sea Turtle, Inc. It’s exhausting this time of year for us, but very well worth it.”

To become a Sea Turtle, Inc. member or adopt a sea turtle hatchling, visit www.seaturtleinc.org .

ahernandez@valleystar.com