A project of TAMUG Sea Turtle and Fisheries Ecology Research Lab.
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Species: Kemp's Ridley
Life Stage: Adult
Release Date: 2009-05-02 23:58:00
Release Location: Hershey Beach, Galveston, Texas, USA
Last Location: 2010-06-25 13:09:13
Lukas Benjamin Schoene
Rod and Sharla
John and Jill Coughlin
The first sea turtle nest on the upper Texas coast in 2009 was laid on 2 May by Smarttie (RRV258), a Kemp’s ridley female discovered crawling back toward the Gulf of Mexico after nesting by TAMUG patroller Sharla K. To researchers and residents concerned about the continuance of sea turtle nesting on Galveston Island following Hurricane Ike, Smarttie’s deposition of her clutch of 114 eggs at Hershey Beach on Galveston is a welcome sign of hope. Her eggs were excavated by biologists from Texas A&M University at Galveston and transported to Padre Island National Seashore for incubation and subsequent hatchling release. A post-nesting ultrasound revealed the presence of developing egg follicles, indicating that Smarttie will likely nest again in 2-4 weeks (mid to late May). She was equipped with a Sirtrack KiwiSat 101 satellite transmitter and released at her Hershey Beach nest site several hours after nesting.
Smarttie is a wild (non-headstarted) Kemp’s ridley as she lacks living and coded wire tags. She is the second sea turtle to be satellite tracked multiple times by the TAMUG STFERL. She was outfitted with her first satellite transmitter on 28 April 2006 after laying her first documented nest in front of Galveston Island's seawall. CLICK HERE to access her 2006 post-nesting tracking information. The satellite tracking data gained from Smarttie and other Kemp’s ridley females tagged by the TAMUG STFERL is essential to characterizing sea turtle nesting on the upper Texas coast, as well as identifying inter-nesting and post-nesting movements of these critically endangered reptiles. Smarttie has been named in honor of Kathy Smartt of the Texas General Land Office, who oversaw the grant that funded TAMUG's initial tracking of nesting ridleys during 2005-2006.
UPDATE AUGUST 2009: One hundred hatchlings from Smarttie's Hershey Beach nest were successfully released into Gulf of Mexico waters offshore of Padre Island National Seashore. Smarttie appears to have located producted foraging grounds offshore of Louisiana, an area popular with many upper Texas coast nesters.
UPDATE OCTOBER 2009: Smarttie has moved further east to waters offshore of Florida and appears to be doing well. Check back to see if she remains here or continues to migrate!
UPDATE JANUARY 2010: Smarttie appears to have emerged unscathed from the recent mass cold-stunning event, although more than 4,500 other sea turtles have been found stranded and hypothermic in Florida alone. (Sea turtle rehab facilities in Florida and Texas have been financially drained by recent cold-stunning events, so please consider supporting them!) Breeding and nesting season begin in March, so check back to see if Smarttie will migrate west to nest again this year!
UPDATE JUNE 2010: To date, we have detected no irregularities in Smarttie's movements and are hopeful she remains in good health. However, we are deeply concerned about the fate of all sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico as BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues to decimate associated ecosystems.