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Texas State Aquarium helps rehabilitate cold-stunned turtles from Cape Cod

The hope is to release the turtles into the Gulf of Mexico when they are healthy enough.
Credit: Texas State Aquarium

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas State Aquarium is helping rehabilitate cold-stunned turtles from Massachusetts.

The TSA received 20 cold-stunned turtles Monday that were found on Cape Cod beaches. The turtles are suffering from hypothermia and other issues, a press release from the aquarium said.

Credit: Texas State Aquarium

The turtles were brought to Corpus Christi by Turtles Fly Too, which partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to rescue endangered turtles. 

Seven different facilities in all took in 120 turtles. Each turtle received a physical exam, and all are said to be doing well. The goal is to release these turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico as soon as they are healthy enough to return.

Credit: Texas State Aquarium

Of the 120 turtles that made the journey, 118 are Kemp’s ridleys, one is a green sea turtle, and one appears to be a hybrid.

Sea turtles are cold-blooded and rely on heat from their environment to maintain their body temperatures. When water temperatures drop rapidly, they become lethargic and unable to swim due to the cold. 

Credit: Texas State Aquarium

Many of the turtles have pneumonia, and some have other medical conditions or injuries from being washed against rocks. They require expert care—but with so many turtles, the rehabilitation facilities are filling up. And it’s only early December. The cold-stun season usually lasts until late December or early January.

 Castle Aviation and Jetstream Aviation Capital joined forces to donate an aircraft to move these turtles. 

“We couldn't be more excited to relocate these little guys to be rehabilitated and released back to where they belong,” said Michael H. Grossmann, CEO of Castle Aviation. Stuart Klaskin, CEO of Jetstream, said, “We are honored to help Castle to provide this plane for this extraordinary opportunity.”

Credit: Texas State Aquarium

20 turtles each also went to The ARK and Texas SeaLife Center.  

“Our Wildlife Rescue Team was ready to assist our partners at NOAA Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the recovery of this vulnerable species during these winter months. Upon intake of these cold-stunned turtles each received a physical evaluation and are receiving 24-hour care,” said Texas State Aquarium Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Jesse Gilbert. “Thank you to Texas A&M College Station’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Texas A&M Kingsville’s Veterinary Technology Program for assisting with the examinations.”


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