Officials from the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced successful hatchings of the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle for the second year in a row on the Chandeleur Islands.
The endangered species was discovered nesting on the islands in August 2022, marking the first time the species had been observed there in over 75 years.
Since this discovery, over 100 sea turtle crawls have been documented on the island, making it one of the highest-density nesting beaches in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
The barrier islands along Louisiana’s easternmost point gained national prominence when President Theodore Roosevelt issued an executive order in 1904 creating the Breton National Wildlife Refuge.
In the years since the area has been severely impacted by natural and man-made disasters.
In 2005 a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina led to significant damage to the island chain. Five years later, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill decimated the wildlife and marine habitat, impacting turtles, fish, birds, and other species that rely on the islands’ resources.
While the USFWS believes that 89 percent of the refuge’s acreage has disappeared since President Roosevelt visited the area in 1915, efforts to restore the islands offer hope for the future. Beginning in the summer of 2022, CPRA and LDWF began monitoring the Chandeleur Islands to inform a restoration strategy and project design. Engineering and design plans for restoration efforts along the Chandeleur islands are already underway and are slated to be completed in 2025, at which time construction activities may begin. CPRA is working to identify a funding source for the construction of the project, which is expected to exceed $200 million.