Louisiana officials announced they discovered the hatchlings of the world’s smallest sea turtle species on an island just off the coast of New Orleans for the first time in 75 years.
Officials identified at least 53 sea turtle crawls (the unique paths turtles impress in the sand on their way to the sea) belonging to the endangered Kemp’s ridley turtle at the Breton National Wildlife Refuge on Louisiana’s Chandeleur Islands. Kemp’s ridley turtles only grow to be two feet in length,
They observed two live hatchlings go into the water, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said in a news release.
Officials said the discovery of the turtles marked a positive sign for the island chain, which was decimated as a habitat following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Agencies have worked on restoring the island since.
“We were very excited to learn that sea turtles are once again using the Chandeleur Islands for nesting,” Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, a regional director with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in the statement. “The discovery of sea turtles … is a huge step forward demonstrating the amazing resilience of fish and wildlife resources … and the importance of restoring these barrier islands to protect humans and nature.”