The University of Texas-Pan American's Coastal Studies Laboratory (CSL) at South Padre Island worked with Sea Turtle Inc. (STI)to help recover 125 endangered green sea turtles from the Lower Laguna Madre during the Texas Gulf Coast's recent cold temperature shock.
"A rapid drop in temperature stuns the turtles and if left in the cold, many will die or be killed by scavengers. Live turtles are placed in a warm (room temperature) place to allow them to slowly absorb heat. We keep them moist in very shallow water, an inch or two, and they are released when the bay temperature rises," said Don Hockaday, CSL research and education coordinator.
STI is a nonprofit organization founded on the island in 1977 to aid in the protection and recovery of the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle but has expanded its mission to include conservation efforts of all marine turtle species.
The CSL is the South Padre Island Headquarters for the Sea Turtle Salvage and Stranding Network, which was established in 1980 to collect information on and document strandings of marine turtles along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts.
Twelve of the surviving turtles are still in rehab at STI. The rest were stabilized and released when the Gulf water temperatures rose to a safe level for them.
Anyone still seeing stranded or dead sea turtles should continue to report them to STI. Learn more about STI at http://www.seaturtleinc.org.
The CSL, established as a marine biology laboratory in 1973 in Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island, focuses on coastal research and public and pre-K-16 educational programs and courses. Research at the lab is directed toward coastal ecosystems of southern Texas and northern Mexico. Current emphasis is on the Laguna Madre and South Padre Island. For more information on the CSL, call 956/761-2644 or go to http://utpa.edu/csl.