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Coast Guard helps rescue cold-stunned sea turtles off Texas coast

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Posted at 12:32 PM, Feb 18, 2021

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard helped rescue 60 sea turtles in need of life-saving assistance near South Padre Island, Texas following the winter storm.

The sea turtles, according to rescuers, had been stunned as a result of the recent cold weather

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Two Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi rescue swimmers rescue 60 sea turtles near South Padre Island, Texas, Feb. 17, 2021. Over 300 cold-stunned sea turtles were rescued by various volunteers and were documented, checked for identifying tags, and quickly transported to local rehabilitation centers.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Grizzard and Petty Officer 3rd Class Will Groskritz, from Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi, volunteered to help save some of the stunned animals.

The Coast Guard says that over 400 cold-stunned sea turtles were rescued by local volunteers.

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Two Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi rescue swimmers rescue 60 sea turtles near South Padre Island, Texas, Feb. 17, 2021. Over 300 cold-stunned sea turtles were rescued by various volunteers and were documented, checked for identifying tags, and quickly transported to local rehabilitation centers.

The turtles were then transported to local rehabilitation centers.

"We were more than happy to lend our assistance and expertise to the larger group effort helping to save the sea turtles that had been affected by the freeze," said Groskritz. "Russ and I swam through some rough and cold water to help these turtles that were out of reach from shore."

The water temperature at the time of the rescue was reported as 35-36 degrees, according to officers.

Texas Game Wardens were also conducting efforts to rescue sea turtles from frigid waters in and around the state.

On Tuesday, Texas Parks and Wildlife shared that around 140 sea turtles were moved to a warmer areas after being rescued from the extremely cold waters of the Brownsville Ship Channel and surrounding bays.

The National Parks Services says that a cold-stunned sea turtle is one that has become hypothermic due to severe cold weather.

According to their website, like all reptiles, sea turtles are ectothermic (cold-blooded) and cannot regulate their body temperature. If water temperatures drop below approximately 50°F (10°C), sea turtles become lethargic and are unable to swim. They float up to the surface and become vulnerable to boat strikes or wash ashore and become stranded. If not rescued quickly, these defenseless animals often die of shock, predation, or trauma due to boat strike.

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