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Audio: The true story of how 96 critically endangered sea turtle hatchlings survived New York City

  • On this episode, the true story of how 96 critically endangered sea turtles survived a New York City beach — with a little help from some dedicated conservationists.
  • This past summer, beachgoers in New York City spotted a nesting Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle on West Beach, which is on National Park Service land.
  • Luckily, two of those beachgoers had the presence of mind to call the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation’s 24-hour hotline to report the nesting turtle — which very likely saved the lives of 96 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle hatchlings.

On this episode, the true story of how 96 critically endangered sea turtles survived a New York City beach — with a little help from some dedicated conservationists and scientists.

Listen here:

 

This past summer, beachgoers in New York City spotted a nesting Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle on West Beach, which is on National Park Service land. Luckily, two of those beachgoers had the presence of mind to call the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation’s 24-hour hotline to report the nesting turtle — which very likely saved the lives of 96 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle hatchlings.

Though the critically endangered species is known to forage in the waters off New York, this was the farthest north a Kemp’s Ridley has ever been known to nest — usually they nest in northern Mexico, with some additional nesting sites in Texas.

In consultation with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service staff put an exclosure around the nest to protect it from humans and predators, then started making plans to monitor the nest and protect the hatchlings once they arrived and began their trek out to the ocean. But it soon became apparent that unusually high tides were swamping the nest, which could have meant disaster for the developing sea turtle embryos — so the difficult decision was made to excavate the nest and incubate the eggs in a secure facility, which ended up being a National Park Service office closet.

We speak with the conservationists and government scientists who discovered and cared for the nest and its occupants in this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, including Patti Rafferty of the National Park Service, Steve Sinkevich of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and Maxine Montello of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. (If you happen to be in New York and spot a sea turtle or any other marine animal in need of help, you can call the Riverhead Foundation’s 24-hour stranding hotline at +1 (631) 369-9829.)

Together, these guests help tell this incredible conservation success story, and answer questions such as whether or not it’s a bad sign that a Kemp’s Ridley came all the way to NYC to nest in the first place.

Here’s this episode’s top news:

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A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle hatchling on West Beach in New York City, making its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Photo Credit: US National Park Service.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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