February 26, 2007
Austin, Texas — About 90 green sea turtles that washed up on South
Texas beaches stunned by cold weather in January were transported Feb.
20-21 by truck from fish hatchery and aquarium facilities in Corpus Christi
to the Port Isabel area and released back into the wild in the Lower Laguna
Earl Nottingham, © Texas PWD
On Jan. 23, about 50 sea turtles arrived at the CCA/CPL Marine Development
Center fish hatchery operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in
Flour Bluff just outside Corpus Christi on the way to Padre Island. The
following day, about 40 more turtles were taken to the Texas State Aquarium
near downtown Corpus Christi.
A sudden drop in water temperature caused by an arctic cold front had
stunned the turtles. Scientists and volunteers with Sea Turtle, Inc. in
South Padre Island rescued turtles that began washing up on area beaches,
but the numbers quickly overflowed STI’s facility.
Biologists with TPWD, Padre Island National Seashore and U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service helped transport many of the turtles to larger facilities
in the Corpus Christi. The team used fish hatchery trucks hauling trailers
with water live wells typically used for stocking redfish and trout into
coastal bays, as well as SUVs carrying turtles wrapped in blankets.
In the weeks since their rescue, the turtles were cared for and fed in
warmer indoor tanks and aquarium facilities and were finally ready to
return to the wild.
Early Feb. 20, TPWD biologists and technicians loaded about 50 turtles into
live well trailers at the CCA/CPL Marine Development Center in Flour Bluff
near Corpus Christi. The next day, staff and volunteers transported turtles
from the Texas State Aquarium to Port Isabel.
Both days, the turtles were transferred to TPWD’s research vessel Trinity
Bay, taken out in the afternoon and released in the Intracoastal Waterway a
few miles north of the Queen Isabella causeway, an area from which the
turtles could readily access intracoastal bay seagrass habitat. Colley’s
Fins to Feathers tour boat service volunteered to take news reporters and
photographers out to see the turtle release.
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