Last week, the Houston Zoo vet clinic and NOAA checked out 9 sea turtles: 4 Kemp’s ridleys, 4 greens, and 1 hawksbill. The Kemp’s ridleys have been recovering from injuries at the NOAA Galveston facility, and will be released over the next few months. Threats to sea turtles are primarily people. People in the form of boats, plastic pollution/littering, fishing hooks, etc. The Kemp’s ridleys looked strong and we hope they’ll go on to live happy sea turtle lives.
The 4 green sea turtles are what is called “cold stunned” turtles. Because turtles are reptiles, they cannot regulate body heat. When the temperature drops quickly, if the turtles are stuck in small inlets of water (shallow water cools much faster than the ocean)and cannot get to larger and warmer water, their tiny bodies begin to shut down. Since green sea turtles enjoy sea grasses and algae, their species is more likely to be in the small bays and marshes that experience the quick drops in temperature. Based on their progress and recovery timeline, the 4 greens visiting us might be released in the future, or allowed a longer recovery to make sure they are as strong as possible.
And finally, the hawksbill. This particular hawksbill sea turtle is undergoing treatment for some issues with the carapace (shell). He’ll need some extra time to recover so that NOAA and the Houston Zoo can monitor his progress.
That’s it for this week’s sea turtle update. Stay tuned for more news as we break into nesting season!