Why dozens of sea turtles are washing up on the Coastal Bend shores and how you can help

Posted at 4:01 PM, May 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 10:19:24-04


Sea turtles are popping up along the beach, and it’s not a good thing.

“This is the first time we’ve ever seen this condition at the aquarium,” said Jesse Gilbert, Vice President and COO of the Texas State Aquarium.

Because of last week’s high tides, 90 juvenile sea turtles were stranded across the shore here in the Coastal Bend.

“The juvenile population of sea turtles that call the upper Laguna Madre and the Packery Channel area home just couldn’t handle the combination of both the flooding and the high winds,” said Gilbert. “The animals are getting caught on the jetties and getting slammed into the rocks. They couldn’t fight the surf going in and out of the channel.”

Dozens of sea turtles were rescued at the Padre Island National Seashore on Friday. They were then taken to the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center.

Gilbert says most turtles were swept ashore due to the exhaustion of fighting the currents, while a few others have injuries that have needed treatment.

“We’ve seen one that had some decent head trauma. It looks like it probably got caught in a jetty,” said Gilbert.

But, most of the sea creatures are in relatively good shape.

“They’re tired, so all we need to do is give them a little bit of a place to rest. We make sure they’re hydrated and that they get some food,” said Gilbert.

The rehab center is hoping to put the sea turtles back into the ocean by Thursday, if the weather permits.

In the meantime, if you come across a sea turtle along the beach, Gilbert says not to throw it back in the ocean.

“They’re a protected species already, so we just recommend calling someone who is permitted to handle these animals and we’ll get it from there,” said Gilbert.

Since most of the sea turtles are washing up exhausted or hurt, Gilbert says they’ll need to be healed and rested before they can make it back into their natural habitat successfully.

To report a stranded sea turtle, you can call Padre Island National Seashore at (361) 949-8173, ext. 226 for animals found on North Padre Island or the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) at UT Marine Science Institute at (361) 749-6793 if they are on Mustang Island.