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Sea Turtle Hatchlings Found In Louisiana First Time In 75 Years

Sea turtle hatchling were spotted by state officials for the first time in 75 years, just off Louisiana's Chandeleur Islands.

The Louisiana Costal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) discovered hatchlings of Kemp's ridley turtles in the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. These groups confirmed in a release that this sighting was the first of its king on the islands in at least 75 years.

Two live hatchlings were observed on their way from the beach to the water, and 53 other 'crawls' - the lines that indicate more turtles have moved through the sand - were documented. The hatchlings were identified as Kemp's ridley sea turtles, which are endangered. The crawls indicated to officials that loggerhead sea turtles, currently considered a threatened species, were also present.

Organizations have attributed the return of the tiny turtles to their conservation efforts.

'Louisiana was largely written off as a nesting spot for sea turtles decades ago, but this determination demonstrates why barrier island restoration is so important', said CRPA Chairman Chip Kline in a release.

'As we develop and implement projects statewide, we are always keeping in mind what's needed to preserve our communities and enhance wildlife habitat' Kline continued. 'Having this knowledge now allows us to make sure these turtles and other wildlife return to our shores year after year.

Now seeing the positive results of that efort, organizations in Louisiana are 'very excited' by the discovery.

Leopoldo Miranda - Castro, Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) said they have worked hard with partners 'to restore wildlife and habitat in the Guld of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill through planning and implementing numerous projects, including on the Chandeleur Islands'.

'The discovery of sea turtles nesting and successfully hatching is a huge step forward demonstrating the amazing resilience of fish and wildlife resources, including threatened and endangered species, and the importance of restoring these barrier islands to protect humans and nature', Miranda - Castro said in a new release.

Kemp's ridley turtles are tiny for their species, only growing to about two feet in length, according to the National Oceanic and Atmoshperic Administration. It is one of several turtle species known to congregate in the area, where the creatures feed on marine seagrass meadows.

Officials said additional nests may be discovered, as the peak of nesting season is June through July.

Nearby in Mississipi, the discovery of the state's first sea turtles nest in four years is contributing to a resurgence of wildlife in the area. The nest mark the first know time a sea turtle has laid its eggs on the Mississippi mainland since 2018, according to the IMMS.

The next - holding eggs that will hatch in 50 to 60 days - was found by beach crew in Pass Christian Harbor, Mississippi, on Aug.1.

The species of the turtle in the nest cannot be determined until the egg hatch. However, Moby Solangi, president and executive director of the IMMS, told the Associated Press that they are likely loggerhead sea turtles or another clutch of Kemp's ridley sea turtles or another clutch of Kemp's ridely sea turtles.

Solangi believes the discovery of the next is a positive indicator for sea turtles, especially following the BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill in 2010.

'After all the environmental disasters we've had, this is a good sign. When (turtle populations) have gone down, it means the ecosystem that supports them is having difficulty', Solangi told the Sun Herald. 'When animals start breeding, it means things have started to get better'.



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