Several Kemp’s ridley sea turtle statues installed less than a year ago as part of the Turtles About Town project already have been damaged, in part by people climbing on the colorful statues.
The 20 or so colorful statues were created in a collaboration between environmental group Turtle Island Restoration Network and Clay Cup Studios, 2219 Postoffice St., and are meant to raise awareness for sea turtles and protection of the coastal environment.
But the popular statues might be drawing too much attention, restoration network local Program Director Joanie Steinhaus said.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Steinhaus said. “These are pieces of art and people crawl on them.”
Each turtle was designed and decorated by a local artist.
Severe damage to the turtle at Seawolf Park prompted the Galveston Naval Museum, the statue’s sponsor, to place a roped fence around the statue, said Ross Garcia, executive director of the museum, 100 Seawolf Park Blvd.
He doesn’t blame people for climbing on it, but the statue has sustained some damage, he said. The flippers are cracking and the inside frame is visible in one damaged area, he said.
“What the turtle really needs is a small barrier with a little sign,” Garcia said.
That’s the plan for the turtle statue in front of Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream, 2120 Postoffice St., owner Mike Bouvier said.
The ice cream shop is popular with families and children like to climb on the statue and hang off the fins, Bouvier said.
“It’s got kind of like a hairline crack on one of the fins,” Bouvier said. “They think it’s concrete and so they tend to just let kids play on it until they realize it’s a little fragile.”
He plans to put a small fence around the turtle to protect it and a sign asking people not to touch the art, he said.
The manufacturing company that built the turtle statues plans to send some repair kits to reinforce the flippers and repair cracking where necessary, said Amy Owens, owner of Clay Cup Studios.
“We’ve found that it’s pretty normal for them to get stress fractures,” Owens said.
She thinks flower beds or other barriers will solve the problem in the future, she said. The studio recently moved from 23rd Street to the new location and the Clay Cup turtle has a new flower bed around it now, she said.
“Nobody climbs on her now,” Owens said.
Owens and Steinhaus are checking with the manufacturer to make sure the turtle statues are structurally sound before ordering the next round, Owens said.
She’s already had more than 12 sponsors interested in getting their own turtle this year, she said.
This new round of applicants will be required to provide plant beds or a fence around the turtle to ward off any damage, Steinhaus said. Even with the potential delay, she hopes to have the new turtles installed before the end of the year, she said.