Hundreds of Green Sea Turtles were released off North Padre Island this week after spending nearly a week in Galveston. The turtles stranded last week along the Gulf Coast because they were shocked by the cold.
More than 90 of those turtles were housed and cared for at Moody Gardens.
“These Green Sea Turtles naturally feed on sea grasses so they were in those shallow bay water environments when the temperatures dropped dramatically,” said Greg Whittaker, Moody Gardens animal husbandry manager. “It is unprecedented to see this many cold-stunned turtles on the Gulf Coast.”
The turtles at Moody Gardens ranged in size from 6 to 70 pounds and are 18 months to 9-10 years old.
In all, nearly 300 Green Sea Turtles were rescued along a five-mile stretch of the bay.
Green Sea Turtles, which can be found along the entire Texas coastline, may become cold-stunned when water temperatures drop to 50 degrees. When that happens, the turtle’s metabolism begins to shut down and they respond by expanding their lungs and floating to the top of the water. Doing so can further expose them as they let colder air into their lungs. Unable to swim, many are pushed up to the shoreline.
Some turtles will remain at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Lab on Galveston Island until they are well enough to be released back into the wild.