CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas State Aquarium's Rescue Center is seeing a big jump in the number of stranded loggerhead sea turtles.
For the first time in its rescue history, the aquarium has had to come up with a plan to find more space for the turtles.
Dozens of the stranded loggerhead sea turtles were relocated to a building owned by the Port of Corpus Christi, located 1 mile away from the current Rescue Center.
The aquarium is currently caring for 27 large loggerhead turtles that came from other rescue facilities in the state of Texas.
"Each of these sea turtles weigh around 150 to 200 pounds each and were found either injured or exhibiting an indication of ill health or abnormal behavior," said Texas State Aquarium staff.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they are so grateful to the Texas State Aquarium and Port of Corpus Christi for stepping up and quickly coming up with a backup plan for the turtles.
“With approximately 125 sick loggerheads needing care in Texas since April, our partner rehabilitation facilities soon reached capacity. Without the quick action from the Aquarium and the Port, we would have been faced with transporting loggerheads to out-of-state facilities, a costly operation that would have put additional stress on the turtles,” said Mary Kay Skoruppa, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sea Turtle Coordinator for Texas.
According to experts, more than 400 loggerhead strandings have been recorded in Texas since April, which is about three times more than any previous year for this region.
"Affected turtles have been underweight or emaciated, and an underlying cause has not been determined. In July, the TSA Wildlife Rescue Center received 17 loggerhead sea turtles from the Amos Rehabilitation Keep – ARK at UT Marine Science Institute (ARK) in Port Aransas, Texas," said staff.
The Aquarium adapted the current Wildlife Rescue Center’s pool to fit as many loggerhead sea turtles as possible. In September, more sea turtles arrived, and due to limited space, 13 patients were transported to the Aquarium’s main campus.
To make space for the sea turtles in rehabilitation, rescue staff repurposed a dam flood control system, originally designed to protect the facility from hurricane flooding, into a sea turtle habitat.
"Loggerhead sea turtles are aggressive towards each other and must be housed in separate spaces to remain safe," added staff.