Texas State Aquarium Releases 73 Endangered Sea Turtles Back to the Ocean

February 14, 2022

During the winter months, sea turtles are susceptible to being “cold-stunned.” Sea turtles are cold-blooded and rely on heat from their environment to maintain body temperature. When water and air temperatures drop rapidly, they become lethargic and unable to swim due to the cold.

Friday, February 4th, and Saturday, February 5th, the Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue team admitted 80 cold-stunned green sea turtles that were found in the shallow bay systems on the Laguna Madre. The sea turtles came from conservation partners at Padre Island National Seashore and the Texas Sealife Center.

To make room for the sea turtles, the Aquarium temporarily closed a portion of its ground floor and used one of the exhibits to hold the temporary guests. The sea turtles stayed in two large holding systems that provided adequate water temperature for their recovery.

After just a couple of days, the cold-stunned sea turtles gradually recovered and achieved a healthy body temperature. The Aquarium’s Rescue, Animal Care, and Animal Health teams provided around-the-clock husbandry, and the sea turtles were ready to go back to the ocean. Once the Gulf beach seawater temperatures reached 58-60°F, National Marine Fisheries made the call to release the turtles.

On Monday, February 7, the Aquarium released the first round of 3 of the largest sea turtles with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard Station Port Aransas. A vessel was used to transport the large sea turtles 3 miles offshore.

 

On Tuesday, February 8, the Aquarium released 73 sea turtles during a beach release off Bob Hall Pier in Corpus Christi, TX. The Texas Sealife Center, Padre Island National Seashore, and Amos Rehabilitation Keep – ARK at UT Marine Science Institute also participated in the release.

“Supporting wildlife conservation is an essential part of the Aquarium’s mission, and it is fulfilling to be able to contribute to the preservation of the sea turtle population who live right in our shores,” said the Aquarium’s President and CEO, Jesse Gilbert. “It’s an honor to be able to assist in the recovery of this vulnerable species, and we are thrilled to see these animals rereleased into the Gulf and continue on their journey.”

The Texas State Aquarium would like to extend immense gratitude to all the organizations and all the people assisting with these rescue efforts, Dr. Brian Stacy from NOAA – National Marine Fisheries Service, Dr. Tim Tristan- Texas Sealife Center, The National Park Service/Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery, Sea World San Antonio.

To learn more about the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center and donate to the rescue and recovery of sea turtles, shorebirds, raptors, and marine mammals, go to texasstateaquarium.org/conserve.

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The Texas State Aquarium (TSA), the Official Aquarium of the State of Texas, is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) institution that is fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Its mission is to engage people with animals, inspire appreciation for our seas and support wildlife conservation. TSA, the largest Aquarium in Texas, cares for over 4,000 animals and has been named the #5 Aquarium in North America by USA Today. Learn more at texasstateaquarium.org.

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