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Padre Day 4: Lending Nature a Helping Hand (or Flipper)

Feeling much better, Mike woke early today and wanted to get some surf fishing in before we started our planned activities for the day. I stayed in the condo and made breakfast. He wasn't gone too long as the only thing he could seem to catch was significant amounts of seaweed. So after breakfast, we drove down the street to the South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center. The birding center is a non-profit organization set up to educate the public about the birds, flora, and fauna in the South Padre Island area.
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There is a five-story tower with beautiful views of the Laguna Madre Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
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Over 3,300 feet of boardwalk winds its way through the sanctuary.
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There is a small museum that highlights the various species of birds and animals commonly found in the region.
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We made our way down the boardwalk and came upon a thirsty hummingbird that had yet to fly south for the winter.
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Blue heron.
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Long-billed curlew (sandpiper).
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Catfish.
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Alligator.
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Common gallinule.
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Turtle.
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We passed by several people with huge, telephoto lenses. Apparently people come from all over the world for South Texas birding. When I was in Tanzania the previous year, I met a British couple who had booked a month-long trip to South Texas for nothing but birding. As the South Padre Birding Center is only one of nine birding centers in South Texas, I'm guessing this is a prime area. We enjoyed our short time there but the humidity was about to kill us so we decided it was time to go.

Our next stop was Sea Turtle, Inc., the island's turtle rehabilitation and rescue center. Sea Turtle is also a non-profit organization, whose goal is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release turtles that have been injured or stranded. The organization also provides college scholarships to biology students and hosts a summer internship program.
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The facility has large tanks serving as a home for each turtle and a sign posting its individual story. The four listed below have permanent homes at the facility as they cannot be released back to the sea.

Erika is an Atlantic Green turtle that was attacked by a predator and stranded in November 2013. She is missing her right front flipper and half of both her back flippers.
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Boudreaux is an Atlantic Green turtle that stranded in July 2012. He had previously lost his back left flipper and his front flippers were tangled in fishing line attached to an old fishing rod. Due to the fishing line entanglement, he is now missing his front right flipper.
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Allison, another Atlantic Green turtle, was the victim of a predator attack in 2005. She was left with only one flipper. For many years, she could only swim in circles. Then a Sea Turtle intern designed a prosthetic flipper for her. It was the first ever prosthetic turtle flipper made. Since then, they have improved on the design many times.
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Merry Christmas, an Atlantic Green turtle cold-stranded on Christmas Eve in the late 1980s suffers from genetic defects.
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After visiting with the turtles and making a donation to the center, we stopped at the condo to grab our fishing gear then headed to the Port Isabel pier for some afternoon fishing.
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Almost right off the bat, I had a pull on the line but to my chagrin, I had caught a ray. Unfortunately, it broke the line and disappeared before we could reel it in and remove the hook. We spent the next couple of hours losing our bait to the thieves of the sea.
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By now we were getting pretty hungry so we decided to try a well-recommended restaurant called Pier 19. What a mistake that was! I ordered crab stuffed shrimp topped with a hollandaise sauce that was so horrible I couldn't even finish it. Mike stuck with a plain, fried shrimp basket and they couldn't even do that well. To top it all off, the touristy pirate boat kept sailing by, firing off its cannon at us every few minutes. We couldn't get out of there fast enough.

We decided to go back to the pier and try some night fishing. It was amazingly crowded. And windy. We got a lot of strikes but no fish, although Mike did catch someone else's tackle. We gave up and went home. It was almost time for our friend, Vi, to arrive. She was joining us for the rest of the trip. She arrived about 10p and we spent some time relaxing with some drinks in the hot tub then called it a night.

Posted by deniseandmike 19:18 Archived in USA Tagged south padre vi

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