Your Guide to Turtle Nesting Season in Port Aransas

What is Turtle Nesting Season?

In Port Aransas, female sea turtles head to the shore to lay their eggs from mid-April to July. A turtle creates a nest by creating a “body pit” that contains an egg chamber for the turtle to drop over 100 eggs. After laying eggs, the turtle covers the hole and heads to the ocean as the incubation period begins. The incubation period lasts for two months and can be affected by the temperature of the beach; once the eggs hatch, they provide the sand with necessary nutrients that it generally lacks. Because nesting contributes to the overall health of the beach on and offshore, it’s important not to disturb nests to encourage turtles to lay eggs and return to the area.

What Types of Turtles Nest in Port Aransas?

Three species of sea turtles are commonly found during nesting season in Port A: Loggerhead, Green, and Kemp’s Ridley. With these species being endangered or threatened, it is highly illegal to catch sea turtles, and equally important to keep beaches clean and distraction-free during nesting season. These facts about each species can help you identify which sea turtles you might encounter.

Kemp’s Ridley Turtles

Kemp’s ridley turtles are some of the smallest and most endangered sea turtle species. During nesting season, most Kemp’s ridleys come ashore in large waves, a spectacle referred to as “arribada” or arrival. Female turtles from this species are known to migrate to the same beach they hatched during nesting season. The National Wild Federation is a great source to learn more about Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and conservation efforts to protect them from extinction.

Green Sea Turtles

Green turtles get their name from the color of their body fat. Because adult green sea turtles are herbivores, their diet relies on foraging algae and seagrass, contributing to their greenish-yellow color in some cases. Green sea turtles are a very migratory species, nesting in over 80 countries. Like Kemp's ridleys, they are known to make the long trek back to their natal beaches during nesting season, resulting in the requirement of widespread conservation efforts. Learn more about green sea turtles and the efforts used to protect these endangered reptiles.

Loggerhead Turtles

Loggerheads are the most widely distributed species of sea turtles in US coastal waters. They are known for their large heads and ability to eat hard-shelled prey with their powerful jaws. When female loggerheads come ashore to nest, they leave wavy tracks, referred to as crawls, in the sand. After finding a nesting spot, they dig a deep hole to lay their eggs, cover the hole, and head back to the ocean. After about two months, baby sea turtles will hatch and make their way to the ocean. Around one in 1,000 hatchlings live to adulthood, so we must do our part during nesting season to contribute to healthy loggerhead populations. Learn more about loggerhead nesting patterns and conservation efforts to protect them.

One hatchling next to eggs in a turtle nest

How Can I Protect Sea Turtles During Nesting Season?

Sea turtles play a significant role in the balance of marine ecosystems. Because their diets consist of seagrass and algae, sea turtles regulate the growth of seafloor greens and provide a necessary habitat for other species. Preserving nesting habitats ensures that ecological balance is maintained onshore and offshore. If you plan on spending your spring vacation in Port Aransas during nesting season, these measures ensure you are not disturbing nesting turtles.

Avoid Disturbing Nesting Turtles

If you see a female turtle nesting on the beach, do not approach! Allow them space to complete the nesting process without distractions. Many beaches in Port A have designated zones for nesting zones, so be sure to look out for any signage or instructions.

Minimize the Use of Artificial Lighting

Sea turtles use the moon's reflection in the water to find their way to the ocean. Using bright, artificial lights can confuse hatchlings and potentially lead them to dangerous areas. At night, we recommend closing the curtains or using turtle-friendly amber lighting if you’re staying on the beach in one of our beachfront rentals.

Keep the Beach Clean

Pollution is one of the biggest threats that sea turtles face. Be sure to clean up after yourself and encourage others to keep Port Aransas beaches clean during nesting season. Remove any trash, furniture, and other obstructions that may block a turtle’s path to water. Properly dispose of your waste in nearby trash bins and recycle whenever possible. 

Avoid Using Vehicles on the Beach

The compaction of sand that occurs when using vehicles on the beach can damage sea turtle nests and complicate hatchling emergence. Avoid driving on the beach, and only park in designated areas.

Know Who to Contact if You Find a Nesting Turtle

If you notice a stranded or nesting turtle on a beach in Port Aransas, it’s important to contact the proper resources for help. Dial 1-866-TURTLE5 and the Amos Rehabilitation Keep will take care of the situation. You can even volunteer with ARK if you want to contribute to the rehabilitation of sea turtles and marine birds.

Sea turtle swimming in the ocean

Why Are Sea Turtle Conservation Efforts Important?

Many sea turtle species are classified as threatened or endangered, even the green, Kemp’s ridley, and loggerhead turtles commonly found in Port Aransas. Conservation efforts prevent further population declines and extinction. Furthermore, the population of sea turtles can indicate the overall health of our marine ecosystems. In Texas, law enforcement and conservation groups enacted laws that protect sea turtles and their nesting habitat. By helping more turtles get to the ocean, you play an important role in the efforts established by wildlife enthusiasts to grow the sea turtle population.

Watch Public Release Events During Your Port Aransas Vacation!

During your Port Aransas vacation, observing a public sea turtle release is one of the most exciting experiences. Local conservation organizations keep an eye on the beach throughout the nesting season, relocating vulnerable nests to hatcheries and organizing community gatherings to witness the gentle release of hatchlings into the water. These events are the perfect opportunity to learn more about the threats baby sea turtles face, and how to consistently do your part on the beaches during nesting season. Become part of these amazing events when you book a beachfront condo rentals in Port A with Aransas Princess. We offer a variety of luxurious accommodations on the beach that make it simple for you to fully immerse yourself in local release events!