Cold Stunning Season Continues for Texas Turtles

Cold Stunning Season Continues for Texas Turtles

For Immediate Release, January 28, 2021

Contact Joanie Steinhaus, joanie@seaturtles.org, 512-417-7741

Cold Stunning Season Continues for Texas Turtles

GALVESTON — As weather and water temperature continues to drop, many coastal communities are experiencing hundreds of sea turtles, some of them dead, washing ashore. This phenomenon, known as cold stunning, refers to the changes sea turtles experience when they are exposed to cold water for an extended period of time.

Joanie Steinhaus, Gulf Program Director for the ocean conservation nonprofit Turtle Island Restoration Network, says the season isn’t over and asks residents to call the Texas sea turtle hotline, 1-866-TURTLE-5 (1-866-887-8535), if they see a cold stunned sea turtle on the beach. 

“Keep an eye out for cold stunned sea turtles on our beaches and bay shorelines,” Steinhaus  said. “Please go slow if traveling by boat and immediately report stranded turtles to the sea turtle hotline.”

So far this winter, 92 cold stunned sea turtles have been recorded in Texas. All 92 are green turtles. Of the 92, 91 were found alive and 1 was dead when found.

Sea turtles are reptiles, relying on external sources of heat to maintain their body temperatures. When turtles are cold stunned, usually when water temperatures reach 50 degrees and below, they will experience a decrease in heart rate and circulation causing them to become lethargic. Cold stunning may lead to shock, pneumonia, frostbite, and potentially death, as they are not able to migrate to warmer waters.

With the help of many groups, cold stunned sea turtles can be transported to a rehab facility, placed in a dry tub and evaluated for any other existing health concerns. They will be warmed up slowly and, when appropriate, placed in water and closely monitored by rehab staff. Once fully recovered, the turtles are released.

Turtle Island Restoration Network has sponsored the 1-866-TURTLE-5 sea turtle hotline for the Texas coast for more than a decade, and continues to raise awareness of the need to report any nesting, injured or deceased sea turtle to the hotline along the entire Texas coast.

Turtle Island Restoration Network is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and restore populations of endangered sea turtles and marine biodiversity on the Texas coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Learn more at www.seaturtles.org/gulf.  

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