CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Padre Island National Seashore staffers on Tuesday will begin to release hundreds of sea turtles who were “cold-stunned” during the winter storm.
The turtles become immobilized and are unable to swim away from danger when the temperatures get too low.
Officials said that the record-breaking plunge in temperatures caused the largest cold-stunning event in the state’s history, putting the turtles at risk.
“As part of an ongoing rescue effort, hundreds of sea turtles were brought to Padre Island National Seashore, primarily from the Laguna Madre, where waters are relatively shallow and heavily influenced by cold air temperatures,” officials said in a statement.
More cold stunned sea turtles are being found today as people head out to enjoy the nice weather. If you see a turtle...Posted by Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery on Monday, February 22, 2021
On Monday, staffers said they were still rescuing turtles who were found by beachgoers.
Staffers, volunteers and area partners have spent days patrolling inshore waters in and near Padre Island National Seashore on foot and in boats.
Turtles found in the cold were brought to the park for documentation, tagging and stabilization, before being transported to one of three local rehabilitation facilities at Amos Rehabilitation Keep, the Texas State Aquarium and the Texas Sealife Center.
“The vast majority of the turtles recovered have been green sea turtles, which are a federal and state-listed threatened species in Texas,” officials said in a statement. “Efforts to recover and rehabilitate cold-stunned turtles are ongoing.”
Officials on Tuesday will start to release the turtles back to the wild, but because temperatures are still “frigid” near the shore, the turtles will be released offshore into deeper water.
A boat will be chartered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for use by multiple agencies to release the turtles into the Gulf of Mexico, according to officials.