Endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle focus of Brownsville conference Nov. 18-19

November 06, 2014

By Cindie Powell

An international symposium to showcase the latest research and the status of the world’s rarest sea turtle, the endangered Kemp’s ridley, will be held November 18-19, 2014, at the Brownsville Events Center in Brownsville, Texas.

Hosted by the Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M University and the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, the Second International Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Symposium will feature perspectives from both sides of the international border with Mexico. The Kemp’s ridley’s primary habitat is the Gulf of Mexico, and its main nesting ground is a small stretch of beach on the Mexican coast near the town of Rancho Nuevo.

“Texas Sea Grant and the Gladys Porter Zoo are privileged to have this opportunity to bring together the world’s Kemp’s ridley sea turtle experts to discuss the recent advances in the science, conservation and management of this critically endangered species, its status, and immediate needs to get it back on track towards recovery,” said Dr. Pamela Plotkin, Director of Texas Sea Grant.

The First International Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Symposium was held in 1985 at a time when the long-term survival outlook for the species was grim. The meeting and its published proceedings were the first thorough assemblage and review of research conducted on Kemp's ridleys during the prior two decades.

The future of the Kemp's ridley is brighter today, but challenges remain, including natural and anthropogenic stressors impacting the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers who study the species are concerned that the Kemp’s ridley is no longer on the path to recovery and may be on the decline once again.

The symposium includes two full days of presentations and an evening social and silent auction at the Gladys Porter Zoo. Registration is $150 for individuals supported by a company, university, government or other entity; students and individuals representing nonprofit organizations may register for $100. Registration can be completed online before the event at http://www.kempsridley.info or in person on the first day of the symposium beginning at 7:30 a.m. The program and additional information are available on the same website.

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Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.