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Local loggerhead sea turtle stranding numbers have increased dramatically

Nearly 300 loggerheads have stranded on Texas shores since April of this year
ARK turtle patrol.jpg
Posted at 4:49 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 17:49:23-04

PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Since April, Amos Rehabilitation Keep, has responded reports of 224 stranded loggerhead sea turtles on local beaches.

Only 90 of them have been alive.

“There was one day I did a survey and found eight dead turtles,” said ARK Senior Outreach Coordinator Alicia Walker.

Unfortunately, this is not a new issue in Texas. Back in April, experts began noticing an increase in strandings along state beaches.

“I think one of the scariest parts, and most concerning parts, is this is still happening,” Walker said. “We imagined that this was going to be short-lived, and we wouldn’t still be seeing this increase in strandings.”

Across the state, almost 300 loggerheads have been stranded — that’s nearly three times the yearly average for strandings, many of which have happened in the Coastal Bend.

“It’s really scary to see how many have been affected by this event, and how many that we’ve found have been deceased already,” Walker said. “So, that’s very scary for the loggerhead sea turtle.”

Experts have performed hundreds of necropsies on dead turtles, but they still can’t figure out what exactly is causing the turtles' deaths.

“We know that it’s not an infectious disease, we don’t think it’s a biotoxin, or any type of toxin,” Walker said. “Right now, the thing we’re seeing is they’re all in a kind of low nutritional state, so what could be causing that? We’re not quite sure.”

Walker said there’s no indication as to whether strandings will slow down or stop anytime soon.

“There’s lulls in the strandings,” she said. “We’ll have days where we get five turtles in, and it will go a week without any. So, we’re thinking, ‘It’s over, it’s finally over. Let’s figure out what’s going on, and we can focus on the turtles we have,’ and then we start finding more.”

ARK relies on volunteers and the public to report a lot of the strandings on the coast. If you encounter a turtle, they ask that you do not touch it — instead, call 1-866-TURTLE-5 (1-866-887-8535) to report the stranded turtle.