The storm erased nesting areas for Kemp's ridley turtles by washing away dunes and beaches on battered Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island, said Andre M. Landry Jr., director of the Sea Turtle and Fisheries Ecology Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University at Galveston.
The number of ridley nests on the upper Texas Gulf Coast has risen every year since 2003, reaching 16 last year. But six of those were on Bolivar Peninsula, which was nearly wiped clean by Ike.
Nesting season starts in April, and officials hope to have replenished the beaches by then.
Before Ike, Landry's laboratory lost most of a $71,000 grant and would have been forced to end beach patrols that assist in the survival of the turtles, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday. But fundraising sparked by a $25,000 challenge grant from Houston attorney Joe Jamail made up the difference.