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Dozens of stranded sea turtles found near Port Aransas, experts searching for cause

52 loggerhead sea turtles were found by the Amos Rehabilitation Keep at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute since April, but only 13 were alive.

PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Stranded sea turtles are showing up on beaches near Port Aransas and experts are trying to figure out why.

52 loggerhead sea turtles were found by the Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute since April, but only 13 were alive.

“We don’t really know what’s happening," said Alicia Walker, ARK Program Coordinator. "Which is kind of the question of why is this happening?"

To find the cause, turtles were brought back to the facility—dead or alive—for testing. Loggerheads are a threatened species, but still common in the area. Wildlife experts said this phenomenon could be caused by several factors.

“For some reason, the weather could be affecting them," said Kayla Gainer- Edwards, an ARK wildlife rehabilitator. "But then also, because of the waves coming in, the wind coming in, we are seeing a lot of them washed ashore and that’s how we’re getting all these loggerheads.”

Loggerheads are a larger species, which adds additional challenges to their rehabilitation. The ARK decided to hold off for now on releasing other rehabilitated sea turtles until they have a better idea of what is happening. 

“Unfortunately, we’re not able to get out our healthy turtles that could be released into the wild," Gainer-Edwards said. "But at this point we don’t want to take the risk releasing them, and them coming back injured or harmed in any way. So, we definitely have to hold back until we figure out what’s going on or it stops.”

Experts also said this could have negative effects on the nesting population of sea turtles. Loggerheads usually nest in late summer, so they hope to find a cause for these turtle stranding's before then to prevent long-term problems.

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