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  Yahoo News 21 Feb 07
Sea turtles returned to Gulf of Mexico
By Lynn Brezosky, Associated Press Writer

Yahoo News 19 Jan 07
Sea turtles are rescued from Texas cold

By Lynn Brezosky, Associated Press Writer

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas - At least three dozen sea turtles are getting a little vacation under heat lamps in this spring-break capital after being rescued from an arctic blast that caused the water temperature in an arm of the Gulf of Mexico to plummet 18 degrees in 48 hours.

The cold-blooded animals were left comatose by the rapid temperature drop this week in the shallow bay where the young turtles feed. Animal rescuers feared the cold would kill the turtles or make them so sluggish as to be vulnerable to sharks.

Volunteers, students and others scooped them up from the surf, bundled them in blankets and towels and took them to the privately run Sea Turtle Inc. rescue center and a University of Texas marine laboratory.

The juvenile green turtles were scrubbed clean of grime, then put under a heat lamp until their eyes opened and their flippers twitched signs they were reviving and ready to be put in 66- to 68-degree holding tanks and feed on romaine lettuce.

Green turtles are born off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and spend their early years feeding on turtle grass in shallow bay areas such as South Padre's Laguna Madre. When they are mature 15 to 20 years old and weighing about 500 pounds they return to Mexican waters to breed.

But a cold spell that sent the mercury plummeting into the 30s on Monday and Tuesday caused the water temperature to fall into the 50s. The turtles' systems began shutting down, and they started washing ashore.

Robert Banard, a volunteer who found the first turtles with his wife, said the turtles were anywhere from three to 65 pounds and were almost immobile. Each turtle was named by the volunteer who found it. Laurie, a 15-pounder, had lost a flipper, the result of a predator trying to take advantage of her lethargy.

The last time it got cold enough for turtles to wash up was in December 2004, when the Rio Grande Valley had its first white Christmas in memory.

The last such operation before that was the 1980s, Sea Turtle curator Jeff George said. With another cold front expected, George said the turtles would be there at least a week.

Yahoo News 21 Feb 07
Sea turtles returned to Gulf of Mexico
By Lynn Brezosky, Associated Press Writer

HARLINGEN, Texas - Nearly 90 sea turtles rescued after a cold snap left them comatose have been returned to the Gulf of Mexico. Jeff George, curator at Sea Turtle Inc., a nonprofit turtle rescue group on South Padre Island, said 42 of the endangered juvenile green turtles were released Tuesday and 46 on Wednesday.

The ones that remained were still on antibiotics and will be returned to South Padre waters in the summer, he said. They will be equipped with satellite transmitters to help researchers study migration patterns.

At least 130 of the cold-blooded animals were rescued after being stunned by a rapid temperature drop in the island's Laguna Madre bay in mid-January. Seven turtles were found dead.

With the water temperature in the 50s, the turtles' systems began shutting down, and they started washing ashore. Some were trucked 180 miles to an aquarium and a fish hatchery near Corpus Christi when the island's tanks were filled.

"We don't usually see greens in the 200-pound range in the Laguna Madre," George said. "It means they're close to sexual maturity and should be migrating back to beaches in southern Mexico."

Green turtles are born in southern Mexico and spend their early years feeding on turtle grass in shallow areas such as the Laguna Madre. They return to Mexican waters when they are mature and can grow to 500 pounds.

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Related articles on Global: marine issues and sea turtles
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