Texas State Aquarium Rescued More Than 270 Sea Turtles in 2019

February 18, 2020

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – 278 sea turtles were taken in by the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center in 2019 – nearly a third of the approximately 1,000 sea turtles that were found stranded alive in Texas throughout the year.

As part of its ongoing partnership with the Padre Island National Seashore – Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery, the Texas State Aquarium is permitted to rescue, rehabilitate and release all species of endangered sea turtles. Sea Turtle Science & Recovery staff and volunteers find stranded turtles, relocate them to their headquarters and after evaluation and assessment, release some into the Aquarium’s care. At the Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center, the turtles can be additionally assessed, undergo medical treatment and recover in rehabilitation pools, after which they will be returned to their natural habitat. Sea turtles that require more extensive rehabilitation or are deemed “non-releasable” because of permanent injuries may be transferred to an aquatic habitat at the Aquarium or to another facility.

More than 1,000 sea turtles were stranded alive along the Texas coast in 2019, according to Dr. Donna Shaver, Texas Coordinator of the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, which contributes to the national database maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Of those approximately 1,000 sea turtles, 278 were transferred to the Aquarium.

216, a vast majority of the turtles admitted to the Aquarium in 2019, stranded due to inclement weather events, including more than 130 from a period of strong winds and tides in May. More than 120 were rescued due to cold-stunning, a hypothermia-like condition that can afflict sea turtles when water temperatures drop below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We greatly value our partnership with the Texas State Aquarium,” Dr. Shaver said. “Thanks to their excellent medical expertise, husbandry practices, and facilities, turtles admitted to the Aquarium stand an excellent chance of surviving rehabilitation and ultimately being released back into the wild”.

In the past two years, the Aquarium has helped rescue and release more than 1,200 sea turtles, shattering their sea turtle rescue numbers from previous years.

“Wildlife rescue continues to be a major focus of our conservation mission here at the Texas State Aquarium. In addition to caring for hundreds of local patients each year, we have recently supported wildlife rescue projects in Africa, Chile, the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, and most recently, in Australia,” said Texas State Aquarium President & CEO Tom Schmid. “Wherever and whenever marine animals are in peril, we will try and help.”

Dr. Shaver said she urges citizens to not pick up or touch sea turtles that are found along the Texas coast. If a member of the public sees a stranded turtle, they are asked to immediately call Padre Island National Seashore at (361) 949-8173, ext. 226 if they are on North Padre Island or the Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute at (361) 749-6793 if they are on Mustang Island.

To learn more about the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center, its conservation partnership with the Padre Island National Seashore – Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery, and how you can help rescued sea turtles, visit www.texasstateaquarium.org/turtlerescue.

Sea Turtle Rescue Pictures

Wildlife Rescue B-Roll

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