Texas State Aquarium and USS Lexington Museum Partner in Rescue of Cold-Stunned Sea Turtle

March 26, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – On February 24, the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington Museum found and recovered several cold-stunned sea turtles stranded near the aircraft carrier. The Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Team rushed to assist with the turtles.

When late February’s sudden cold snap stunned hundreds of sea turtles in our area, many people in our community came to the rescue.  They joined forces and worked hard to report, rescue, and transport the cold-stunned sea turtles to rehabilitation centers, saving as many turtles’ lives as possible.  Many heroic and heartwarming stories have come from those efforts.

The longer that sea turtles are exposed to extremely cold temperatures, the lower their survival rate. So, unfortunately, the Lexington’s turtles – rescued ten days after the cold snap’s February 14 onset – didn’t have great odds of survival. They were already highly compromised and had a considerably lower survival rate than turtles rescued a week earlier.  Yet, a large green sea turtle the Lexington rescued that morning beat the odds, surprising us with his will to survive.  We gave the Lexington crew progress reports, updating them about how this sea turtle was progressing in the recovery process. In return, they sent us encouraging messages, saying they were rooting for that sole survivor and had even named it “Blue Ghost,” sharing the nickname of the USS Lexington itself.  After weeks of treatment and encouragement, Blue Ghost passed its swim test and was cleared for release.

“When the USS Lexington Museum crew saw sea turtles floating near the ship on that very cold, foggy morning, we knew they didn’t have good odds of survival. LEX crew members volunteered to help in any way they could, including entering the freezing water to retrieve the turtles and turn them over to the experts from the Texas State Aquarium,” commented Steve Banta, USS Lexington Museum Executive Director. “We appreciate our great relationship with our neighbors at TSA, and applaud their wildlife preservation work in the Coastal Bend. We wish a long and happy life for “Blue Ghost.”

“It was truly remarkable to see how our community came together to help as many sea turtles as possible,” said Jesse Gilbert, TSA’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “After beating all the odds, seeing the resilience of this particular sea turtle was heartwarming, and we were so happy to see it swim into the warm waters of the Gulf again.”

Thanks to the Lexington crew’s quick action that cold February morning, the Wildlife Rescue Specialists were able to help Blue Ghost beat the odds – saving its life and releasing it back to its home in the Gulf on Sunday!

Photos and B-Roll of rescued and released sea turtles from the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center

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