Sea Turtle Project

Monitoring for Sea Turtle, Piping Plover & Brown Pelican

Project name and location:

SSCI provided monitoring for Sea Turtles, Piping Plovers and Brown Pelicans during outfall channel maintenance and outfall structure improvements on the Bolivar Peninsula in Galveston County, Texas in compliance with Section 7 of the Threatened and Endangered Species Act.  The turtle monitoring and endangered species monitoring was part of a TXDOT project that consisted of maintenance and dredging of 24 existing outfall channels along SH 87, between the Ferry Landing and SH 124.

Project description

Hurricane Ike in 2008 altered the Bolivar Peninsula beachside habitat by removing the coastal dunes and pushing the sands within the SH 87 right-of-way (ROW), effectively moving the coastline closer to the roadway and potentially within the limits of the SH 87 Outfall Channels.  The entire Bolivar seaward coastline, including much of the SH 87 ROW, is now considered potential nesting habitat for sea turtles and winter and migratory habitat for Piping Plover (migratory bird) and resting area for the Brown Pelican, a permanent resident on Bolivar Peninsula.  These species are on the current federal list of Galveston County’s threatened and endangered species.

Sea Turtles

Monitoring is focused on the sea turtles (especially Kemp’s Ridley and Loggerhead Sea Turtles) during their peak nesting season, April 1 through September 31.

Piping Plover & Brown Pelican

The Piping Plover most likely appear in late July and August and continually occur through April or early May.  Brown Pelicans are of less concern as they are permanent residents on Bolivar Peninsula and more than 500 can usually be found on any given day.

At the beginning of each work day, SSCI’s protected species Monitors held a meeting with all contractor/consultant employees to cover endangered species identification and possible locations, truck and equipment speed limits on beach areas and other areas of potential habitat, and instructions as to stop work upon direction of the Monitor or at the sighting of any suspect threatened or endangered species.  To ensure no sea turtles, turtle nests, Piping Plover or Brown Pelicans were present, SSCI’s Monitors conducted surveys prior to morning construction activities and through the duration of the day as long as activities continued (walked the perimeter of the work zone in the morning and continually walked the work zone throughout the day).

SSCI’s sea turtle and endangered species Monitors fill out and sign daily logs or reports that include:

  • Date and Time of Monitoring
  • Weather Conditions
  • Road Segment (or Mileage) Monitored
  • Any Events Which Occur
  • Any Other Findings of that Day

Client: TXDOT Highway Contractor

Visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife article about Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles.