The recent cold snap hasn’t been kind, especially to sea turtles along the South Texas coast.
Over the past two days, the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center in Corpus Christi says it has taken in 383 green sea turtles — an all-time record for the aquarium — who suffered cold-stunning.
Cold-stunning is a hypothermic reaction that sea turtles can develop when they are exposed to a sudden drop in shallow water temperatures.
South Texas's unusually cold weather resulted in a record 388 sea turtles being taken into our rehab center for cold-stunning! They'll recuperate here at our Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center with the goal of being released back into their natural habitat soon! pic.twitter.com/pwhxUikBAi
— Texas State Aquarium (@TXStateAquarium) January 4, 2018
Turtles have been recovered by people in boats and walking the shoreline. Members of the aquarium’s team, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a team from Sea World in San Antonio and other organizations have been working to rescue and rehabilitate the turtles.
National Park Service spokeswoman Donna Shaver tells the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that the cold-stunned turtles in shallow water become incapacitated and float to the surface. If they’re not rescued, their lives can be in danger from predators and boats.
"When we find live cold-stunned sea turtles in the water, there is a good chance that they will survive," Shaver said.
Cold stunned sea turtle ALERT! Prolonged exposure during times of extreme cold can be fatal to sea turtles. Immediately report any cold stunned turtles that you locate by calling us at 361-949-8173 ext. 226 #NPS #seaturtles pic.twitter.com/0MsTXK3fLu
— Padre Island N.S. (@PadreIslandNPS) January 4, 2018
Rescued turtles are inspected to determine injuries, weight, vital signs and other details. Several turtles taken in were found to have symptoms of fibropapillomatosis, which are tumors caused by a herpesvirus, according to the aquarium.
The rescued turtles at the aquarium range from “the size of a dinner plate” to about 100 pounds.
Once the turtles are rehabilitated, they'll be released in waters that are deeper and warmer.
SEA TURTLE RELEASE ON SUNDAY JAN. 7,2018 At 12 pm. Padre Island NS, Texas State Aquarium, Texas Sea Life Center, & ARK staff and volunteers will release 100 or more Green sea turtles that were found cold stunned just a few days ago. For more info: https://t.co/kMb2sZEzuQ #NPS pic.twitter.com/Db4DA26aP4
— Padre Island N.S. (@PadreIslandNPS) January 5, 2018