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South Padre Island

Birds, Dolphins & Sea Turtles

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Get Close To Nature on Your Island.

Nature lovers will find South Padre Island a paradise of dedicated conservationists working to preserve habitats for endangered species. Sea Turtles Inc. is a must-do for any island visitor and provides a close-up experience for you and your family to learn more about the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sea turtles, particularly the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. During the summer months, regularly scheduled releases give you the opportunity to watch as tiny sea turtles from protected nests make their way to the ocean for the very first time. If you’d like to learn even more about aquatic life in the Gulf, visit the South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sea Life Nature Center, where you can take a tour to learn about sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, many different species of birds, and more from Captain George and Captain Scarlet; these tours are intimate and perfect for a small group. If you’d like to venture out on your own, numerous well-kept boardwalks weave in and out of marshlands and dunes. Be sure to bring your camera and binoculars, and be prepared to see alligators in the water below. Make sure to include a visit to the nearby Laguna Atascasa Wildlife Refuge, which provides a habitat for a wide diversity of native species on nearly 100,000 acres and an unparalleled opportunity for you to discover the wonder of many South Texas species for yourself.

So what types of wildlife can you expect to see on South Padre Island and in the surrounding water? Here’s a list to get you started; we hope you’ll add your own favorites as you learn more about the many species that make our island their home.

  • Birds native to South Texas: green jays, plain chachalacas, Harris’ hawks, white-tailed hawks, olive sparrows, Altamira orioles, and aplomado falcons
  • Migratory birds: peregrine falcons, sandhill cranes, white-fronted geese, redhead ducks, and many other waterfowl
  • Common mammals: bobcats, coyotes, javelinas, Mexican ground squirrels, and white-tailed deer.
  • Endangered mammals: ocelots and jaguarundis.
  • Reptiles: American alligators, indigo snakes, Texas tortoises, western diamondback rattlesnakes, and coral snakes.
  • Sea turtles: Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead, hawksbill, and Atlantic green.