Efforts to successfully rescue “cold-stunned” sea turtles rendered helpless by seasonal temperature drops in Texas’ coastal waters increased dramatically thanks to a generous grant for a sea turtle transport trailer from the Nystrom Family Foundation. That trailer will enable Keep Aransas County Beautiful (KACB) and its rehab partners to transport live, stunned sea turtles to refuge points along the Texas Gulf Coast to allow the federally protected animal’s body temperatures to return to normal, thereby saving their lives.
“Cold-stunned” turtles lose complete control of their movement and are carried helplessly by the Gulf currents up bays and estuaries until they die.
The new KACB trailer will enable stunned sea turtles along the coast to be saved, and deceased turtles to be transported to the necropsy laboratory on the Padre Island National Seashore.
In a single day last year, 203 stunned turtles were rescued in Texas.
The trailer, operated by KACB turtle rescue personnel and partners, will be up to 30 feet long and 8.5 feet wide. It will house pens for live turtles, and storage for the transport of affected turtles (found along the coast from as far away as the Louisiana border) to the lab.
It will also contain dedicated workspace for recording and storing data key for the study of Texas precious marine resource including the highly endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and green sea turtles, as well as giant leatherback and loggerhead turtles.
Once outfitted, it will be the only such sea turtle transport in Texas.
The Sea Turtle transport will also be placed on display to help KACB’s public education effort to eliminate castoff plastics, fishing line debris, etc. threatening Texas’ aquatic animals and our environment.
KACB board member Stephen Gregory has been a part of the Friends of Padre for 25+ years, making the annual trek from Oklahoma every year to clean up this important coastal area. In retirement, he and his wife, Donna, now volunteer and advocate on behalf of this important coastal species. Doing coastal waterway cleanups goes hand-in-hand with rescue, because much of what is rescued year-round, is impacted by plastics and debris left carelessly in our waterways.
2020-2021 training nears
Padre Islands Nation Seashore is holding its annual training via Microsoft Teams webinar instead of its usual in-person training.
The training dates are (one only needs to attend one class):
• Session 1 - 9:30 a.m. -12 p.m., Thursday, Oct, 29
• Session 2 - 9:30 a.m. -12 p.m., Saturday, Oct, 31
To continue in the program, one will need to email his or her name, email address, and phone number, and to Martha Villalba-Guerra at email@example.com.
She will then send out a link for the webinar.
(Note: If one is not able to do an online training at his or her home, KACB will see if it can accommodate you at the Aquarium at Rockport Harbor. One should email KACB at firstname.lastname@example.org if he or she needs this assistance.)
Details about this initiative
• Gregory initiated this initiative. He has been involved with Friends of Padre for 20+ years, performs regular watches for sea turtle eggs, and is formally trained for Cold Stunned Sea Turtle Rescue.
• Sea Turtles are protected both federally and by the state, so one must be formally trained or accompany someone who is formally trained to perform the service.
• This will require one’s participation outdoors on the absolute coldest days of the year, both in searching bay shorelines and recovering stunned sea turtles from shorelines and other water environs. All participants must be 18 years or older.
• When water temperatures drop below 50°F, sea turtles develop hypothermia, leaving them vulnerable to boat strikes, predators, and death.
• Aransas County rescuers are also called out year-round for rescues and pick up and transport of injured or deceased turtles for necropsy to ARK in Port Aransas (bypassing the lines at the Ferry).
• KACB has a text list for dispatch based on availability (i.e. – during work day, for evenings and weekends only, or both).
For more information call or text (361) 210-8300, or email Info@kacbtx.org.