PORT ARANSAS (Kiii News) - The temperatures from this unusually chilly weather have left more than 80 green sea turtles cold stunned this winter season.
The Padre Island National Seashore was able to rescue most of the turtles and transport them to the Animal Rehabilitation Keep, or ARK, in Port Aransas, where the turtles are gradually warmed back up and prepared for release.
Volunteers at the ARK have treated almost 100 cold-stunned sea turtles from this brutal winter season. The facility is packed with dozens of tubs and tanks filled with green sea turtles as their body temperatures begin to warm up. It only takes 24 hours for the turtles to come out of cold shock, which most of them have. However, the ARK plans to keep them through February, waiting for the cold season to die down.
"Most of these, by the way, are coming from the Laguna Madre," said Tony Amos, a turtle expert at the ARK. "Especially the causeway into Corpus Christi, by the JFK bridge, and Laguna Madre South. That's where the water is shallower and gets colder more rapidly."
Amos said this winter season has brought in a record number of cold-stunned turtles. However, he said that in the last couple of years, the amount of green sea turtles in the gulf has increased.
"But in general, the water is getting warmer, then these animals will tend to stay here and thrive for most winters, and for most winters that's fine," Amos said. "But every now and then we'll get these arctic fronts coming through, lowering water temperature, and that will cause them some harm."
He said the ARK is almost at full capacity with sea turtles, and if that number continues to increase, they will have to find more facilities to treat them.
"The more the population grows, they are vulnerable to other things," Amos said. "During the year, we often get them being hit by boat propellers, entangled in fishing lines, so all those things have increased."
If you come across any sea turtles, the ARK and National Seashore advises not to push the turtles back to sea, and instead urge people to report them by calling 361-442-7638.
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