Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center Takes in All-Time Record of Nearly 400 Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles

January 4, 2018

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – A recent cold snap throughout Texas was tough on the Coastal Bend’s green sea turtles, but the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center was here to help. Over the past two days, the Aquarium’s in-house wildlife rehabilitation team took in 383 green sea turtles who’d suffered from cold-stunning, a hypothermic reaction that sea turtles can develop when exposed to a sudden drop in shallow water temperatures. The large sea turtle intake marks an all-time record of sea turtles taken in at one time by the Aquarium’s rehab team. The green sea turtles vary widely in size and weight, ranging from about the size of a dinner plate to around 100 pounds.

The sea turtles were rescued largely by volunteers and staff at the Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle

Science & Recovery and Sea World, who have been patrolling local beaches as of early Saturday. The Texas State Aquarium reached out to these groups and other local partners and assisted with the transport, housing, and treatment of cold-stunned turtles. Staff at the Aquarium made several trips to and from Padre Island National Seashore and contributed to the sea turtles’ meticulous intake process.

As part of their intake and treatment plan, each cold-stunned sea turtle was closely inspected by staff and volunteers at the Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center to determine injuries, weight, vital signs, and other details which will affect their treatment and release. Several sea turtles were also found to have symptoms of fibropapillomatosis (FP), debilitating tumors that are caused by a herpesvirus. These sea turtles were separated from the other non-FP turtles for specific treatment.  Each sea turtle will be closely monitored and introduced to gradually warmed waters over the next several days until they’re able to regain a healthy body temperature. The Texas State Aquarium will be standing by throughout the cold weather period to assist with the transport and treatment of any other stranded sea turtles as they are discovered.

Once the turtles have recovered and rescuers are confident the turtles have the ability to care for themselves, they will be released into their natural habitat. Any sea turtle that is unable to survive in the wild will be found a new home in a protective environment.

The Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center is asking beach-goers and other residents to be on the lookout for stranded sea turtles this winter season. To report a stranded sea turtle on North Padre Island or in the upper Laguna Madre area, call: 361-949-8173 ext. 226. For other areas, call 1-866-TURTLE-5.

To learn more about the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center, go to texastateaquarium.org/rescue.

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