Recovered cold-stunned sea turtles being released
Thousands of cold-stunned turtles are now being released back into the Gulf of Mexico after a week of rehabilitation in Corpus Christi. More than 2,000 sea turtles were rescued and taken to the Amos Rehabilitation Keep at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Texas Sealife Center, and the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center. Padre Island National Seashore also assisted in the effort.
Freezing temperatures cause turtles, which are cold-blooded reptiles, to go into shock when the water dips below 50 degrees. Cold-stunned turtles are mostly found along the bays, where the water is colder than the Gulf. The water temperature in Copano Bay dropped to 39.7 degrees during the week of freezing weather Feb. 12-19.
Stunned turtles lose the ability to move, which can lead to death. They are slowly warmed up in rehabilitation centers and returned to the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico when appropriate, usually when the water temperature reaches 55 degrees.
The national seashore deployed teams of volunteers who walked the beaches looking for turtles that washed ashore or were floating in Laguna Madre Bay.
Although warmer weather has arrived, cold fronts could move in and out of the area over the next few weeks. If you find a cold-stunned, stranded, or injured sea turtle, contact the Padre Island National Seashore at 361-949-8173 ext 266 or after hours at 361-876-8462.
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