Endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle Rescued Off Texas Coast

by Taylor Cunningham

A loggerhead sea turtle has been safely relocated after recently being found stranded on a Texas beach.

On Thursday, Sept. 15, the Quintana Beach County park received a report that a female turtle was in distress, according to Fox News. Staff members then contracted San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge and stayed with the loggerhead until help arrived.

The animal was taken to a sea turtle facility where she will be monitored until she’s able to return to the Gulf of Mexico.

The news comes amid a particularly hard year for loggerheads, which are a federally protected endangered species. This summer, a shocking amount of sea turtles have washed ashore on Texas beaches, mostly dead. And officials have no idea why.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service says that between April 1 and August 19, 282 turtles showed up along the state’s coastline. The few that were alive were “underweight and emaciated.” And as the Quintana Beach story proves, the problem continues today.

While it isn’t uncommon for unhealthy or dead loggerheads to appear on beaches, it doesn’t typically happen often. From 2012 to 2021, an average of 109 turtles were stranded in Texas each year. By August of this year, that number had already more than doubled.

Officials Are Asking the Public to Report all Sea Turtle Strandings

Officials are asking the public to help by reporting all strandings to 1-866-TURTLE-5 so a local rescue team can relocate the animal. They also ask that people keep the public away from the animal until help arrives.

Rescuing a sea turtle is a race against the clock because the animal can only live approximately 8 hours on land. While they can breathe on land, they will dehydrate quickly. Covering a turtle with a wet towel and shielding it from the sun will help keep it alive.

“This dramatic increase in loggerhead strandings this year is alarming and has STSSN participants on high alert in the Coastal Bend to be ready for the increased influx of incapacitated loggerheads needing immediate rescue and care,” Donna Shaver, Texas Coordinator of the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, shared in a statement.

There are currently an estimated 50,000 loggerheads alive today. And scientists are struggling to help the population. However, no one can determine why Texas turtles are dying. Through autopsies, scientists have ruled out diseases, fishing gear injuries, and biotoxins.

“I think one of the scariest parts, and most concerning parts, is this is still happening,” Alicia Walker, a Senior Outreach Coordinator with Amos Rehabilitation Keep, told Kris TV. ” We imagined that this was going to be short-lived, and we wouldn’t still be seeing this increase in strandings.”