Sea Turtle Rescue Effort Update from Texas

As many of you are aware by now, the State of Texas was besieged by a winter storm that left many areas covered in snow and ice, and its residents without electric or water services for several days. The wintry blast also greatly impacted its wildlife, notably sea turtles. This week, an unprecedented 7,000+ sea turtles were found cold-stunned in its waters and along its shorelines. Many were already dead, while thousands more required triage and acute medical care.

Cold-stunned sea turtles are rescued aboard a Texas Game Wardens vessel. Photo: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Turtle Survival Alliance reached out to those coordinating the relief effort so that we may provide an update from that effort and information on how our followers can best assist. Texas has numerous established nonprofit sea turtle rehabilitation facilities, and a broad stranding network coordinated by Donna Shaver of Padre Island National Seashore. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Texas Game Wardens and SeaWorld San Antonio are continuing to provide ongoing rescue efforts for cold-stunned turtles using their fleet of marine vessels. Sea Turtle, Inc on South Padre Island, in collaboration with Gladys Porter Zoo, has borne the brunt of this cold-stun event. Other facilities providing aid include Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) at UT Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, the Texas State Aquarium and Texas Sealife Center, both in Corpus Christi, the Houston Zoo-operated sea turtle hospital at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) facility in Galveston, an on-campus rehabilitation center operated by the Texas A&M University Galveston Campus, and a small sea turtle facility run by Dr. Chris Marshall.

Cold-stunned sea turtles are brought in en masse to the Sea Turtles, Inc. facility on South Padre Island. Photo: Sea Turtles, Inc.

The facilities mentioned above all have physical locations where turtles receive care, but more importantly, a core staff that works with armies of volunteers who are helping with this unprecedented wildlife event. Thousands of turtles have been triaged and are already cleared for release as soon as coastal temperatures warm, most likely within the next week. Many others will require continued acute and long-term medical care and rehabilitation before their release.

To best assist these efforts, click on the above links as many of these organizations have relief fund campaigns and Amazon Wish Lists of medical and husbandry supplies critical to the turtles’ recovery.

Thank you all for your support of the turtles affected by this historic event.

Photos courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife and Sea Turtles, Inc.