Movements of Kemps ridley sea turtles nesting on the upper Texas coast: implications for management
Increased nesting by the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle Lepidochelys kempii at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico has been complemented by commencement and growth of nesting in Texas, USA. Six female Kemp’s ridleys were fitted with satellite transmitters after nesting on the upper Texas coast during 2005 and 2006 and subsequently tracked for 20 to 153 d. Two were con- firmed nesting a second time on Galveston Island, whereas satellite tracks of these and 2 other females suggested that each nested a total of 3 times on the upper Texas coast within a season. Five of the females showed fidelity to nearshore waters off Galveston Island during their respective nest- ing seasons, and all 4 ridleys tracked after the nesting season established foraging areas on the con- tinental shelf of Louisiana. One female stranded dead on Galveston Island 20 d after transmitter deployment. Fidelity of these nesters to the upper Texas coast, along with apparent increases in nest- ing activity in the region, warrant establishment of sea turtle management schemes comparable to those utilized in south Texas. Potential threats posed by urbanization, tourism, and in-water activities along the upper Texas coast should be addressed by federal, state, and local authorities, whereas increased nesting may also present opportunities for educational outreach and responsible eco- tourism.