Dozens of struggling sea turtles are rescued from Texas waters. What happened to them?

Dawson White
·2 min read

As cold weather slams the Lone Star State, it’s putting some of Texas’ wildlife in danger.

On Feb. 14, Texas game wardens said they rescued 40 sea turtles from East Matagorda Bay off the Gulf Coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi.

Officials said the turtles were “stunned from the severe cold weather conditions.”

A photo shows dozens of turtles piled safely in the back of a boat near a dock.

Because sea turtles are cold-blooded, they can’t regulate their body temperature.

When water temperatures drop below about 50 degrees, sea turtles become lethargic and suffer slower body functions and decreased circulation — this is called cold-stunned, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration said.

The water was 53 degrees in East Matagorda Bay on Sunday, NOAA reported. The land temperatures in the area hovered around 20 degrees Monday morning, according to weather.com.

Cold-stunned sea turtles become unable to swim, and they float to the surface, making it more likely for the reptiles to get struck by boats or washed ashore and stranded. The condition also leaves sea turtles vulnerable to being killed by predators or shock, according to the NPS.

Thankfully, game wardens were able to reach these 40 sea turtles in time. The reptiles were taken to a dock and released to rehabilitation specialists, officials said.

Typically, cold-stunned sea turtles are released back into the wild once water temperatures have warmed up and the animals have recovered from hypothermia, accord to the NPS.

Officials said game wardens along the coast will continue to monitor for struggling sea turtles amid the unusual winter weather.

Monday morning, there were more than 2 million Texans without power due to the winter storm that has dropped between four and five inches of snow on some of the state’s most populous cities including Austin and San Antonio, The Weather Channel reported. The Dallas-Fort Worth Airport has seen about four inches of snow.

The uncharacteristic winter event has been dubbed Snowmageddon 2021 and many Texans have taken to social media to share how they’re marking the occasion. You can see some of the best images here.