Sea Turtle Inc. will have more parking space

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — For years, finding parking, especially on weekends, at the popular attraction Sea Turtle Inc. has been quite a challenge.

That problem will soon be remedied.

Sea Turtle Inc. has purchased 5.58 acres of land next to its existing facility on Padre Boulevard.

And as early as spring break and at the latest this summer, a new parking lot with 40 more spaces will be available for those wanting to get their up close look at sea turtles and learn more about them.

The land purchase comes about a year after a $6 million expansion and renovation to the facility breathed new life through improvements to one of the most popular attractions on South Padre Island.

“Currently, our needs are more parking,” Sanjuana Zavala of Sea Turtle Inc. said Friday.

Since the expansion, the facility is busier than ever. According to figures from 2018, there were more than 192,000 visitors to Sea Turtle Inc. Zavala said in previous years, the counts of visitors were estimates because there was no entry fee as donations were accepted.

Now, those running the facility have hard numbers, which they say have surpassed what they expected.

The future looks even brighter when it comes to attendance as projects that include summer camps, Be-a-Vet program and a new stingray tank will bring more interest.

Also, the rehabilitation of the older facility should be completed by the end of the year.

“With the high number of visitors we saw this summer and the many upcoming attractions coming to this facility the need of additional parking space was evident,” Executive Director Jeff George said. “This will alleviate parking congestion during peak summer days and give the visitors a greater experience.”

Not all the purchased land will be used for parking. Part of the acreage includes protected wetlands, which will continue to be protected by Sea Turtle Inc.

Neither the previous owner’s names or sale price of the land was divulged.

Did you know?

Sea Turtle Inc. was founded in 1977 by Ila Fox Loetscher, also known as the “Turtle Lady of South Padre Island.” In 1999, it moved from Ila’s backyard to the current location at 6617 Padre Boulevard. Over the past couple years, the facility has received a $6 million expansion with a new educational complex.