Nine rescued sea turtles were returned to their natural habitat in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center partnered with the Padre Island Seashore Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for the offshore release on Friday.
The nine turtles, representing four species, ranged in age from around 1 to 4 years old and included loggerhead, green, hawksbill and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, species that are endangered or threatened in the wild.
According to the aquarium, the sea turtles were found in the spring stranded on nearby beaches from various injuries and illnesses, including missing flippers and dehydration.
The turtles were admitted to the Wildlife Rescue Center where staff treated their wounds, placed them in water systems and monitored them around the clock. When each sea turtle showed signs it could eat and swim on its own, the rescue center’s staff began preparations to reintroduce them to their natural habitat.
In order to give the turtles the best chance of survival, the Wildlife Rescue Center carefully coordinated an offshore release, taking into account tidal patterns and other conditions of the local ecosystem.
Using a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department boat, the sea turtles were transported about 10 miles offshore and released into a habitat with conditions ideal for growing sea turtles.
“This recent release of sea turtles represents another major milestone for our expanding Wildlife Rescue Center” said Jesse Gilbert, Senior VP and COO at the Aquarium. “This is the first time we’ve released four different species at the same time, and one of the few offshore releases we’ve participated in during the past few years.
“We’re grateful to our conservation partners at Padre Island National Seashore, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, NOAA, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and others for their assistance, and with their support and that of our community, we hope to rescue countless more sea turtles in the years to come.”
To learn more about the Texas State Aquarium’s sea turtle rescue efforts, visit www.texasstateaquarium.org/turtlerescue.