PORT ARANSAS, Texas — At least 300 sea turtles are expected to be released back to their homes after being rescued from cold waters during the Big Freeze.
There are some 1,200 turtles collected and some are being kept at the auditorium in Port Aransas.
Organizers say that 600 of the turtles will be released today and the rest are expected to be released on Tuesday.
Jace Tunnell, reserve director at the UT Marine Science Institute, said turtles started arriving at the center when temperatures started dropping with the arrival of the cold front last week.
“On Monday, we started getting them in,” Tunnell said. “Slowly over the first couple of days we started getting a couple of hundred each day. And then all of a sudden we got 1,200.”
Tunnell said almost all of those recovered are green sea turtles.
“Today is a special day because we’re planning to release some of these back into the Gulf of Mexico,” Tunnell said.
Tunnell said 600-700 turtles that are in the auditorium have been dry-docked.
“Sea turtles are meant to be in the ocean,” Tunnell said. “We want to get these out first. These are our priority. And then we have about 300-400 that are at the ARK that are in the water. We’ll try to get them out tomorrow or later in the week.”
Tunnell said saving the turtles is a rewarding part of his job.
“This is why we do this job is saving the animals,” Tunnell said. “When something like this happen when we have historic low water and air temperatures it can devastate some of the animals that aren’t used to that type of thing.
“So really, if we weren’t doing this, you would see a huge decline in the population of sea turtles. We want to thank all of the volunteers who came together to save this species.
These turtles will be released today depending on the weather.