CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When Texas Gulf waters hit below 50 degrees, turtles are at risk of going into shock.
On Jan.15, dozens of cold-stunned turtles were rescued and are now on the road to recovery.
According to Dr.Donna Shaver, Texas coordinator of Sea Turtles and Salvage Network, 92 sea turtles were rescued from the cold waters by the Padre Island National Seashore Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery from Jan.13 to Jan.15.
“The largest hot spot for cold stunning is the upper Laguna Madre,” she said.
Cold-stunned turtles are lethargic and unable to swim so they float to surface. Shaver says they are traveling from the Gulf floating with the current straight into Laguna Madre.
“They are most likely hatching from nests down at the Gulf of Mexico,” she said.
Since the 1970s, the green turtle has been protected as a threatened species in the state of Texas, Shaver said. Since then, their numbers have increased. That trend is something one volunteer is working to uphold.
“It's a little bit of an adrenaline rush," said Justin Stringer. "It’s like, oh my gosh it needs help and you just want to help it as much as possible.”
Stringer was a part of the rescue last week, working on a boat for six to seven hours for two days looking to spot cold-stunned turtles.
“The second day wasn’t as long," he said. "We had a direct objective to go down to the land cat as specifically look in that area."
There are three rehabilitation centers in Corpus Christi. Where the turtles are sent depends on their health.
The Animals Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) is currently housing some of the turtles rescued on Jan.15.
“They rehabilitate more turtles than most of the rehab facilities than the United States do,” Shaver said.
The turtles are currently still being observed until they can be released.
If you find a stranded turtle you should report immediately to the North Padre Island Madre areas at (361) 949-8173, Ext 226.
In other areas in Texas, you can call 1-866-887-8535.
Additional tips for safely rescuing cold-stunned turtles include:
- Not warming up a cold-stunned turtle because raising its temperature too quickly can harm the animal.
- If you put the turtle in water, it could be a danger of drowning.
- Additionally, if you find a dead sea turtle you are asked to report the location and condition of the animal. All dead turtles will be recovered, if possible, although the priority will be to recover live ones first.