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Nearly 400 Turtles Stunned By Texas Coast's Unusually Frigid Waters Have Been Rescued

Texas State Aquarium
The Texas State Aquarium's Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center in Corpus Christi says it has taken in almost 400 cold-stunned turtles.

The recent cold snap hasn’t been kind, especially to sea turtles along the South Texas coast.

Over the past two days, the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center in Corpus Christi says it has taken in 383 green sea turtles — an all-time record for the aquarium — who suffered cold-stunning.

Cold-stunning is a hypothermic reaction that sea turtles can develop when they are exposed to a sudden drop in shallow water temperatures.

Turtles have been recovered by people in boats and walking the shoreline. Members of the aquarium’s team, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a team from Sea World in San Antonio and other organizations have been working to rescue and rehabilitate the turtles.

National Park Service spokeswoman Donna Shaver tells the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that the cold-stunned turtles in shallow water become incapacitated and float to the surface. If they’re not rescued, their lives can be in danger from predators and boats.

"When we find live cold-stunned sea turtles in the water, there is a good chance that they will survive," Shaver said.

Rescued turtles are inspected to determine injuries, weight, vital signs and other details. Several turtles taken in were found to have symptoms of fibropapillomatosis, which are tumors caused by a herpesvirus, according to the aquarium.

The rescued turtles at the aquarium range from “the size of a dinner plate” to about 100 pounds.

Once the turtles are rehabilitated, they'll be released in waters that are deeper and warmer.