VIRGINIA BEACH-- The lead world expert on Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles spoke at the Virginia Beach aquarium Sunday.
Dr. Pat Burchfield led the charge to save these turtles from extinction. Part of the effort, was working closely with the shrimp trawl fishing industry to develop nets that turtles can escape.
Burchfield says 99 % of the Kemp’s Ridley breed comes from an area in Mexico about 200 miles south of Brownsville, Texas. The smaller turtles were down to a couple hundred in the 1980s.
“This past nesting season, we had one day with more than 7,000 females on the beach. I remember the first time I saw two turtles on the beach, and it was a big deal.”
There have been occasions when Kemp’s Ridleys turn up in Virginia Beach. The turtles visit the Virginia waters to eat and survive.
Mark Swingle with the Virginia Aquarium, says he’s been trying to bring Dr. Burchfield to the aquarium for years to speak. He is the authority on the comeback of the Kemp’s Ridley turtle. It’s a man made comeback that Dr. Burchfield likes to talk about.