CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - Being outside in cold weather isn't good for our health.
It turns out, the same goes for sea turtles.
According to marine experts, when the water cools down to the mid to low 50's, turtles begin experiencing adverse health effects.
Recently, this was the case for sea turtles in the coastal waters.
"These turtles get very lethargic and so they float to the surface making the susceptible to predators," says Tom Schmid, the CEO of the Texas State Aquarium.
When the cold front arrived in the Coastal Bend days ago, the aquarium and various sea life organizations jumped at the opportunity to help Gulf Coast sea turtles out of the chilly water and into a safe environment; rehabilitation centers.
"There we can slowly increase their body temperature we can monitor their vital signs and then once they become active and the water temperatures in the gulf warm back up, which they have in the past couple of days, we can release the animals back into the gulf," Schmid says.
The rescue mission was one for the books, Schmid says over 1500 sea turtles were rescued.
In the past couple of days, a couple hundred have been released back into the water.
"This has been the largest cold stunning event along the coast recorded in Texas history...this has certainly been an unprecedented event for the Texas State Aquarium and for the park service and the Coastal Bend," Schmid adds.
The effort took several people, like marine experts Emma Gilbert and Doctor Donna Schaver. Gilbert with the aquarium says this rescue, recovery and release has been monumental for everyone involved.
"Just a great learning experience and opportunity," Gilbert says.
Dr. Schaver, with the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network was happy to be a part of this record-setting event and even happier to share the release with bystanders.
"We're so grateful to have so many people here to witness the release of these turtles," Dr. Schaver says.
On Saturday afternoon, over 300 sea turtles were escorted back into the water as hundreds of people watched. If it weren't for everyone involved, Schmid says the release, may not have occurred.
"This is 1000 animals that certainly would've perished if not for what the folks in the community would've done so were just supportive of the community and thankful that the community helps us with this," the CEO adds.
Schmid says there are still a couple hundred that need to recuperate before they can be released and of those sea turtles, a few are in critical condition.
For the marine experts like Emma Gilbert and Donna Schaver, and volunteers involved, it's been an event they won't soon forget; preserving the native sea turtle for generations to come.
"We're making a difference for the future, helping to save this magnificent animal for future generations."
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