SAN ANTONIO – Following freezing temperatures Tuesday,  members of the SeaWorld San Antonio Rescue Team rushed to the Padre Island National Seashore area to rescue cold stunned green sea turtles.

  • SeaWorld helps rescue cold stunned turtles
  • Sea turtles cannot regulate body temperature
  • Will be released once water temperature rises

A cold stunned sea turtle is one that has become hypothermic due to frigid water temperatures. Sea turtles are reptiles and cannot regulate their body temperature. When the water temperature drops to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and below, sea turtles can become stunned, appearing comatose and unable to swim.

Cold stunned turtles float to the water’s surface or wash ashore, drastically increasing their risk of predation, boat strikes and drowning. If not located and protected quickly, cold stunned turtles often succumb to the elements.

Working in coordination with many of its partner organizations along the coast, rescue team members pick up cold stunned turtles on the water and transfer them to the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at the Padre Island National Seashore where health examinations are conducted to determine the next steps.

Once documented and assessed, cold stunned turtles are transferred to facilities like the Amos Rehabilitation Keep at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute to be rehabilitated before being released when the water temperature permits.

More than 3,500 cold stunned green sea turtles were documented on the Texas coast last year, according to the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, marking the largest cold stunning event recorded since the STSSN was established in 1980.

The SeaWorld Rescue Team has rescued more than 33,000 animals in need over the last five decades.