AUSTIN, TX (KLTV) - Texas and sea turtles are things you would usually not associate together, but that ended Thursday. Joining the notable list of animals that Texas is known for is the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle.
The Texas state senate unanimously approved a bill to add the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle to the list of official state animals. The Kemp's Ridley sea turtle joins other things on the list of official state symbols including the longhorn (the official state large mammal), the nine-banded armadillo (the official state small mammal), the pecan pie (the official state pie), and oddly enough the Dutch oven (the official state cooking instrument.)
The state of Texas is filled with rolling plains and rows of pines, but there are few state- recognized symbols that represent the large coastal area of Texas. Supporters of the bill say adding a marine creature highlights the diversity that the state has to offer.
The Kemp's Ridley sea turtle is an endangered species that is part of a large conservation effort in Texas. The protection program began in 1978 and continues today, with a nesting colony for the turtles at the Padre Island National Seashore. As of 2012, more than 100 turtle nests were identified at the national seashore, with another 100 reported in other Texas' coastal areas.