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.

8 Comments

  1. Dominick Corpolongo on February 19, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    You volunteers and staff are angels. We wanted you to know that many of us in NY (and throughout the world) are praying for the survival of the turtles and your continued selfless efforts. As heartbreaking as this situation is, it’s wonderful to see you great Texans come to the rescue. It’s very much appreciated!

  2. Morgan Lloyd on February 19, 2021 at 11:19 pm

    My family is praying for the turtles from CA!
    Thank you to all of the volunteers.

  3. Linda on February 20, 2021 at 11:04 am

    Wild life need help. So many are endangered

  4. Joy Ash on February 20, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    We have been watching you rescuing the sea turtles. It’s very impressive, especially as so many of you are having heating and water issues of your own.
    I was wondering, are you having to feed the turtles?
    Also do they need to be cleaned up after they have been lying on the tarpaulins for a while?
    We, in the UK are very proud of you all.
    From, Joy Ash

  5. Shelly W. griffin on February 20, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    I am a Texan and was just shocked by how the cold weather affected the sea turtles. So happy to see how Texans volunteered and worked together as a community to help in the turtles rescue and care. I am normally an annual resident during the month of February on the island, but was not there this year due to COVID. I would have loved to have been there to help in the rescue, but will be happy to help with a donation. Thank you again for all of your efforts. We all love the sea turtles!

  6. Julie on February 21, 2021 at 4:47 am

    God bless the creatures small and weak and strong and tall…help us all…

  7. Big Joe on April 16, 2021 at 3:38 am

    Thank God their is wonderful people on this planet that love our Turtles worldwide, what a wonderful job you all have done in the difficult times we are in at the moment, you should be very proud of yourselves
    My best regards
    Big Joe ( London U, K )

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