The Great Outdoors. Health. Happiness. Education. History. Preservation. What do all of these things have in common? They are all things that can be found in a national park. Established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson, The National Park Service was originally compiled of just 35 parks and monuments. Today, the National Park Service (NPS) is tasked with preserving and protecting 419 parks, beaches, monuments, historic sites, and battlefields across the U. S. These 419 units weave a tapestry of nature, culture and history that connects us all.

In honor of National Park Week we will be exploring America’s Greatest Treasures and sharing with you some tips and insights to make your visit an enjoyable success.

We’re kicking off our celebration at Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped Barrier Island in the world.

Previously owned by the Republic of Texas, Padre Island became part of the United States after the War with Mexico of 1845-1848. Spanning 70 miles of Northern Padre Island, Padre Island National Seashore was established on September 28, 1962. In vast contrast to its counterpart down south Padre Island National Seashore is less about the Hennessy life and more about the hatchling life. Home to the rarest species of sea turtles, the Kemp’s ridley. First listed as an endangered species in 1970 large scale, bi-national, efforts have been established to help protect these majestic creations.

Padre Island’s Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery, the only division of its kind within in the NPS, works to protect the Kemp’s ridley and the four other sea turtle species found in the Gulf of Mexico. Led by Dr. Donna Shaver the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery spends a significant amount of time conducting scientific research. Sea turtles spend 99% of their lives in the water and may travel for 1000s of miles, making research on population dynamics extremely difficult. Dr. Shaver and her team deploy tactics such as satellite tracking of Kemp’s ridleys to analyze effects of egg incubation temperatures on sex ratios of hatchlings, and foraging ecology of juvenile greens. These efforts are made possible, in part, by the generous donations of private citizens and corporations. At Clear Seas we’ve had the great pleasure to facilitate the donation of more than $225,000 in support of these efforts.

Sea turtles nest from April to September and hatchling releases typically occur from mid-June through August. Most releases are open to the public and take place at 6:45 a.m. on Malaquite Beach in front of the Visitor Center at Padre Island National Seashore on North Padre Island, Corpus Christi, Texas. Should you find a nesting or stranded sea turtle it is vitally important that you leave the turtle be and call 1-866-TURTLE-5 or contact your local Response Team

Padre Island National Seashore has more to offer than just sea turtles. Year-round camping, fishing, birdwatching, Junior Ranger Programs, and most importantly volunteer opportunities .