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Nine loggerhead sea turtles back in Gulf of Mexico after rare November release

Texas State Aquarium was rehabilitating the sea turtles at facility leased from the Port of Corpus Christi due to space concerns.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas State Aquarium held a sea turtle release, sending some of the surviving loggerhead turtles home into the Gulf of Mexico.  

This year the Padre Island National Seashore reported more than 400 turtles stranded in Texas. That is more than four times the yearly average.

November is not typically a time when sea turtles are released. However, some of the hundreds that washed up in record numbers were ready to be released. The Texas State Aquarium released 9 of the 27 turtles they're rehabilitating. 

TSA President, Jesse Gilbert spoke with 3NEWS and said those turtles were brought from the Amos Rehabilitation Keep earlier this year. The mass stranding is responsible for at least 420 turtles washing up on Texas beaches this year.

"We're not sure why, but we're getting them back, they're recovering. They're actually doing quite well once we get food, and we get them a little bit of rest and they seem ok." Gilbert said.

Dr. Donna Shaver with the Padre Island National Seashore told 3NEWS about 56% of the stranded sea turtles are found dead, and more die during rehab. "These were the hearty survivors and we're thrilled to see that. But, with all the dead ones and alive ones, we hope to gather information to try to be able to piece together this mystery." Shaver said.

This is the first time the TSA's Wildlife Rescue Program ran out of space. Now with the help of the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas State Aquarium now has room for about 3,000 sea turtles. Which is convenient since the cooler weather can lead to thousands of sea turtles in need of rescue.

Gilbert shared, "They really stepped up, so we're really excited about this program and then also moving into the new Port of Corpus Christi Wildlife Rescue Center this spring, you would get to see all of this in action." 

Gilbert said the loggerheads have their blood and weight values checked routinely by veterinarians and will released once they're healthy enough.

Dr. Shaver asks people to report sea turtles they find, dead or alive, to 866-TURTLE-5 so they can be recovered and tested to hopefully find the cause.

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