Speed Limit Threatening Turtles' Lives

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 4:07pm

South Padre Island sea turtles are currently in danger during their nesting season.

“For all of Texas the beach speed limit is 15-miles per hour,” says Sea Turtle Inc’s Jeff George.

But that doesn’t include the 40-mile area stretching from beach access six to Port Mansfield. This area’s speed limit is currently set at 25 miles per hour.

“There have been cases of sea turtles nesting on South Padre Island that have been hit by vehicles going 25 to 30 miles per hour,” says George.

In the past three years two critically endangered Kemp Ridley mother turtles have been killed by drivers. Two turtles may not seem like a large amount, but it’s the loss of their future offspring that is most devastating.

“In a two year span they nest about 300 eggs and they lay eggs all their lives,” says George.

That’s thousands of potential new turtles that are never realized. George says that a newly proposed House Bill would help reduce the speed limit during nesting season.

“From early March to Labor Day is when our babies are hatching,” says George. “The mama turtles are nesting in March, April, May, June and then the babies are hatching out in the summer.”

George says that during this time period sea turtles burrow themselves into the sand making which makes it difficult for fast drivers to spot them. He says a decreased speed limit would solve this problem.

“Something slow enough that if you see a nesting turtle or people working with nesting turtles that you have time to stop,” says George.

If the bill is passed the speed limit could go into effect by as early as next spring. Just in time for the 2012 nesting season.




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