Friends of Padre

Dr. Jen Brown's Gulf Podcast episode 3 "A Sense of Place"

By Tyler Thorsen

Dr. Jen Brown highlights the history of the Friends of Padre and the 25th Annual Billy Sandifer Big Shell Beach Cleanup. There's classic audio of Captain Billy that sure is nice to hear. Thank you, Dr. Brown!

Dr. Jen Brown covers the Big Shell Cleanup in Part 3 of the Gulf Podcast: A Sense of Place

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Texas Turtle Nest Update 4/24/2020

By Tyler Thorsen

On 23 April, 1 Kemp's ridley nest was located on the Texas coast, on San Jose Island. 


Total numbers of nests found in Texas this year, by species and area, have been updated below.



So far this year, 28 nests have been confirmed on the Texas coast including (north to south in state):

0 Bolivar Peninsula

0 Galveston Island

0 Brazoria County, N. of Surfside 

0 Surfside Beach

0 Quintana Beach 

0 Bryan Beach 

0 Brazoria County, N. of Sargent Beach 

0 Sargent Beach 

0 Matagorda Peninsula 

0 Matagorda Island

1 San Jose Island

1 Mustang Island

18 North Padre Island, including 16 at Padre Island National Seashore

7 South Padre Island

1 Boca Chica Beach 


Data presented here are preliminary. Do not cite or quote without permission. Contact Donna Shaver ( for further information or if you wish to be removed from this email distribution listUpdates regarding nesting will be posted at the Padre Island National Seashore website:


Donna J. Shaver, Ph.D.

Chief, Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery, National Park Service, Padre Island National Seashore

Texas Coordinator, Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network

Telephone (361) 949-8173, ext. 226; fax: (361) 949-9134



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Dad is home for Father's Day 6/14/2019

By Tyler Thorsen

Dad is home for Father's Day 6/14/2019

For years the joke around most of Billy's younger friends and minions was that we always called him "Dad". Though he never had any kids of his own, Billy had many sons and daughters that loved him like a father, yours truly included. The joke between Captain David Rowsey and I was that when Billy passed that I would get his collection of 51M mirrolures and Rowsey would get his cherished Corky collection. I'd say "Dad always liked me best!".

So one year after his passing and just after what would have been his 72nd birthday, Joy Sandifer was kind enough to let Friends of Padre Board Members, Jeff Wolda, Troy Adler, and I take his ashes back to what he called "Home" - the Padre Island National Seashore.

We met up in the parking lot at 6:15am on Friday June 14th. Jeff and I had Billy on board with us with Troy Adler following behind. Several years ago on a trip down the beach, Billy showed Troy the exact spot he wanted his ashes to be. Troy asked if he wanted them spread on the wind or buried? Billy thought about it and said "If you toss them in the wind and my "ear" itches ( only he didn't say ear) but my hand is fifteen feet that way, how am I going to scratch it?" So he decided he wanted them put into a hole but not buried.

We laughed and told Billy stories and fished for his beloved surf trout on the way down to our secret undisclosed location. The trout fishing was good and the weather and water was beautiful.

Once we reached our location, Jeff wanted to do something to honor Billy and that was to toss the lure which he had used to catch the biggest trout he has ever caught on the Padre Island National Seashore. Billy was there and said "Call it 30" but it was just 29.999 so that's what Jeff called it.

 We gathered Billy's ashes and the items he asked that we place with his remains including a rattlesnake rattle, to connect him to the beings that live on the ground and feathers to connect him with those that can fly and two spear points found on the island.

  Our final destination up on the top of the dune.

Billy picked a wonderful resting place. The view from the surf to the bay is incredible. Billy asked that we not do any prayers or words but to get it done and walk away. We almost did that but each of us were fighting back tears saying goodbye.

And now Captain Billy Sandifer is home. We miss you, Dad!



Captain Billy Sandifer 6/11/1947 - 3/31/2018 "Life's a hoot. Get you some of it!"

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Friends of Padre Adopt-a- Highway Cleanup 3/28/2019

By Tyler Thorsen

The Friends of Padre Adopted that section of Park Rd 22 between Commodores Dr. and Whitecap. We pick up trash there at least two times annually and Thursday evening March 28th was the first cleanup this year.  Thanks to all of the motorists who drove by us carefully or waved hello. 

Pictured left to right Friends of Padre board members, Kevin Eager, Troy Adler, Steve Gregory, and Jeff Wolda, Cody Moravits and Tyler Thorsen were also present. This stretch contains about 4 miles of actual surface given both sides of the highway and both sides of the median.

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Friends of Padre Beach Report 3/30/2019 "Remembering Billy"

By Tyler Thorsen

Friends of Padre Beach Report 3/30/2019

Water Temp: 71

Water clarity: Poor on the north end better south of the 30 mile mark to beautiful from the 50 mile mark to Port Mansfield Jetty

Surf: 4 rows to 2 - 3 feet better south of the 30

Driving: Poor. The worst was at high tide and it was brutal. 4x4 only in the afternoon from the 45 mile mark to the 18 mile mark.

Debris: Lots especially on the north end with Water Hyacinth from the recent Midwest flooding comprising most of it along with wood. Some sargassum but not enough to hamper fishing.

Fishing Report: Jack Crevalle, whiting, pompano, spanish mackerel, bonnetnosed and blacktip sharks. Some trout on the rocks at Port Mansfield Jetty.

Birds Observed: Cattle egrets, willets, royal, sandwich and Caspian terns, long billed curlews, sanderlings, laughing gulls, herring gulls, grackles, great blue heron, cormorants, brown pelicans, Cara Cara, and white tailed hawks.

We started the day early to catch low tide as we had reports of a 4hr journey off of the beach late Friday due to high tides and soft sand. We spent half of the time telling Billy Sandifer stories throughout the day not realizing that this day was the actual one year anniversary of his passing.

Here is Sunrise at the 20 mile mark

We observed birds on our way south looking for jack crevalle to be wreaking havoc on the local bait during the start of their big migration only to find a few working bait well offshore. The water clarity improved south of the 30 mile mark and the conditions were beautiful south of the 50 mile mark. We stopped at the jetty and observed the erosion and spoke with fishermen camped down there.

While waiting on our quarry to appear we looked for bait and found a stretch near the 55 mile mark that contained many By-the-wind sailors, a form of small jellyfish harmless to humans.

It was at the 55 mile mark we asked Billy to tell us where the jacks were. We imagined him laughing at us for being skunked on fish with half of the drive completed. Suddenly the word 42 popped into my head so, at least I thought I might be getting some heavenly guidance from our late friend and mentor. Heading back north we still did not observe any frenzied activity near shore that would indicate the presence of jacks however there was some bait and excellent structure south of the 40 mile mark. We did stop at the 42 mile mark when FOP treasurer, Jeff Wolda, said "Here it is". We paused and looked hoping Billy had shown us to the "promised land" only to find more beautiful water but no jacks body surfing the waves into the wade gut. So we ventured on. 

Then we stopped at a hole near the 40 mile mark and started blind casting when Jeff Wolda hollered "Jacks" when he saw two coming in from the first gut just into the wade gut and back into the first gut.

We hauled out sans waders into the large wade gut in the 71 degree waters and began casting our large silver spoons into the first gut. It wasn't long before Josh Kea was hooked up.

 About 15 minutes had gone by and we were wondering if he was going to land this jack. Then suddenly we caught a glimpse of a five foot shark in the curl from the first gut into the wade gut and our hearts sunk thinking all of this fuss was over a shark and not our targeted jack.

Time wore on and we were wondering if this shark was foul hooked as it was acting like a stingray sort of dead weight-like. Then this happened!

 As it turned out this 20lb class jack had been the victim of a bite from the shark we saw in the wave.


Success! Note the shark bite just above and behind the pectoral find and down by the belly.

The tide was rising quickly so we headed back north in the horrible soft driving hoping to avoid those skinny beach areas in the 30's and find more jacks. No more jacks or birds were observed this day and we headed home thankful that Josh had just gotten his personal best fish from the surf. It would only be later that evening when we realized this was in fact the day Billy passed last year. We were actually glad knowing that Billy would have rather seen us having fun fishing and telling "Billy stories" than mourning his passing.

"Life is a hoot! Go and get you some!"

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Friends of Padre Donates to Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network 3/01/2019

By Tyler Thorsen


Friends of Padre presented a $5000 donation to the Regional Director of the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Lea Walker, and volunteer Elani Morgan Friday. Left to right Friends of Padre Treasurer, Jeff Wolda, Lea Walker, FOP President, Aaron Baxter, and Elani Morgan

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Friends of Padre Pre Cleanup Scouting Report 2/13/2019

By Tyler Thorsen

County and Federal Government are working together along with concerned citizens and Friends of Padre preparing to clean 20 plus miles of beach on Feb 23rd. Come join us! Smooth sailing now! It's great to see a plan come together. Let's make this a record year of volunteers! Thanks Tyler Thorsen and Jeff Wolda for the scouting report.



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A Call To Arms!

By Tyler Thorsen

Update 2/07/2019

Friends of Padre, PINS Staff and Nueces County Coastal Parks are working overtime to get the road cleared out for the Billy Sandifer Big Shell Beach Cleanup. That's true dedication. Thanks to Friends of Padre Board members, Jeff Wolda, Cody Moravits, and Kevin Eager who camped alongside the Front end loaders so that they could stay in the work area near Big Shell.


The 2019 Billy Sandifer Big Shell Cleanup will be held Saturday February 23rd at the Padre Island National Seashore. Volunteers will meet at the Malaquite Visitor’s Center no later than 8am. The normal park admission fee will be waived for cleanup volunteers. Volunteers can expect to be back at the Visitor’s Center Parking lot no later than 2pm.

   Volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles are and have always been the backbone of this event. However, those without four-wheel-drive are welcome and will be transported down the beach as space becomes available in four-wheel-drive vehicles. Volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles willing to accept riders should notify team leaders during registration. Trailers for hauling trash are much needed but must be in good condition due to the rough terrain.

   Volunteers are advised to check weather forecasts and dress appropriately as the event has historically included some rather adverse weather conditions. Long trousers, long sleeved shirts, windbreaker jackets or slicker tops, suitable headwear and sturdy work shoes are recommended. Boards with rusty nails can and should be expected under piles of dead sargassum so sandals and bare feet are not recommended.

   Food will be available at the Malaquite Pavilion at the conclusion of the event with Corpus Christi Area Domino’s Pizza and the CCA Corpus Christi Chapter Wienerschnitzel Wagon. Drinking water and light snacks will be available in the work area but feel free to bring something to eat during the event if you feel it necessary.

   Volunteers will receive those wonderful Augsart commemorative Coyote Design T-shirts while supplies last. And this year for the very first time we are honored to offer up to 1200 volunteers Yeti Rambler Tumblers in various sizes. Thanks from our first time sponsor, Yeti, one of the most respected outdoor manufacturers in the world. Thanks to our friend and fellow cleanup volunteer, Kurt Obersteller, who works at Yeti for bringing this new partner to our event.

   And to our largest and long time supporter, Mr. Leon McNinch of the Ruth Parr Sparks Foundation of Alice, TX , we thank you for letting us continue our mission dedicated to the preservation and betterment of North Padre Island and the people and wildlife that call it home.

   Brother Curtis Mai and the Sharkathon event have been one of our biggest supporters and friends for years as have our partners in conservation at the Corpus Christi Chapter of CCA.

   Michael Laskowski Sr. and Jr. of Trac-Work Inc. has been our glove supplier for over decade. Brian McKinsey is our Support Leader and Vehicle “Puller Outer” down island. In addition to that role, Brian has personally bought ads in various publications and has purchased billboard space this month along South Padre Island Drive and I-37 in Corpus Christi to publicize this event. Thanks to Everett Johnson aka “Yank” for all of the support from Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine. The Padre Island Moon, HEB, Value Bank, The Texas State Aquarium, Saltwater Angler,, Graf  Plumbing, 1360 KKTX and K99, The Bait Bucket, Gambler Specialties, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Stephen and Donna Gregory, Federal Steel, Coastal Bend Audubon Society, Padre Island National Seashore and the Matt Eckstrom Family. Thanks to the City of Corpus Christi for providing recycling for our recyclable plastic from the beach.

  “Life’s a hoot! Get you some of it!” See you on Saturday February 23rd 2019!


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