Texas State Aquarium Releases Nine Endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtles

November 29, 2022

On Saturday, November 26, 2022, the Texas State Aquarium released nine loggerhead sea turtles that were admitted to the Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Program between July and September after being stranded on Texas beaches. The release took place near the North Padre Sea Wall in front of beachgoers that came to witness this special moment.

Three of the released sea turtles were equipped with transmitters that will help scientists track their migratory movements, their marine habitat locations, how the turtles use these different habitats, and the migration routes turtles travel between habitats. The transmitters were kindly provided by the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island National Seashore.

The released turtles were part of more than 40 loggerhead sea turtles that were relocated to the Aquarium’s rescue program from other rescue facilities in the region. Each of these loggerhead sea turtles weighs around 150 to 200 pounds and was found either injured or exhibiting an indication of ill health or abnormal behavior.

After months of care and treatment, these loggerhead sea turtles fully recovered from related health complications at the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center. The Aquarium’s veterinary team provided expert medical care, including physical exams, bloodwork, x-rays, and antibiotic treatments. Last week, the veterinary staff announced the turtles were ready to be released back into the wild.

The rehabilitation of these loggerhead sea turtles required extensive efforts and coordination by numerous Aquarium departments. The Aquarium’s Water Quality Team maintained optimal water conditions in the pools. The Aquarium’s Wildlife Care Specialists constantly updated vital statistics for each turtle, including weekly weigh-ins and measurements, and prepared special diets to ensure optimal nutrition. Our staff ensured the turtles consumed not only all their food but the nutritional supplements they were provided. They also performed daily observations to identify any health issues and verify that the turtles were alert, responsive, and swimming and diving normally.

“This release is the outcome of our staff’s hard work, dedication, creative setup, and fast response,” said Texas State Aquarium President and Chief Executive Officer Jesse Gilbert. “We are grateful to have this unique opportunity to assist partners at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries in caring for and housing this endangered species, and we are looking forward to expanding our capacity for this work when the new Port of Corpus Christi Center for Wildlife Rescue at the Texas State Aquarium opens in just a few months.

The Aquarium would also like to extend its gratitude to all the organizations and people who assisted with this rescue and rehabilitation effort. In particular, the Aquarium would like to thank the ARK at UT Marine Science Institute for assisting with the treatment of several of these loggerhead sea turtles and Padre Island National Seashore for their assistance with the release.

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