117 cold-stunned sea turtles revived and released into Gulf surf (copy)

The sea turtle science and recovery division at South Padre Island National Seashore releasing green sea turtles into the Gulf surf in November 2019, after they were found cold-stunned. The winter storm is expected to leave a massive amount of sea turtles cold-stunned this week.

Wildlife rescuers with Sea Turtle Inc. and the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife recovered 1,957 cold-stunned green sea turtles Monday along the Texas coast, according to a preliminary report.

The estimated 1,957 turtles included 22 in Galveston/Christmas Bay, 60 in Aransas Bay, 119 in the Upper Laguna Madre, 1 on North Padre Island Beach and about 1,755 in the Lower Laguna Madre, according to the report from Donna Shaver, chief of the Padre Island National Seashore’s Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery.

“Most were found alive, though the exact numbers found by area and (whether they were) live/dead will be provided as we catch up on record keeping in the coming days,” Shaver said in her report.

Weather conditions limit cold-stunned sea turtle recovery along Texas coast

Weather conditions limited regular boat surveys in some areas Monday. Some citizens and businesses helped search for cold-stunned turtles in areas where searchers had not yet been initiated by state and federal agencies due to the frigid weather conditions, Shaver said.

The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife conducted more widespread boat surveys on inshore waters Tuesday.

“The Upper Laguna Madre has been the epicenter of cold stunning on the Texas coast during recent events, so many undocumented cold stunned turtles may be there,” Shaver said.

The portion of cold-stunned turtles found dead will increase the longer they await rescue on the shoreline or bobbing in the water, incapacitated by water temperatures, she said.

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Kali Venable is an investigative and environmental reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6558 or at kvenable@vicad.com.

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