Sea Turtles in Galveston

Recently, I came upon the opportunity to be a part of something incredible. Through the partnership held between the Houston Zoo and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA), I was given the chance to assist at the NOAA facility in Galveston working with their protected species branch. My hope is that by helping out at the NOAA facility, I will be better informed and better equipped to spread the conservation message through the various Houston Zoo communication channels. The NOAA branch in Galveston works heavily with sea turtles, performing tasks such as rescuing turtles hooked by fisherman and releasing injured turtles after they’ve been rehabilitated (among about a thousand other responsibilities). Every Monday, a turtle survey is completed during which approximately 80 miles of coastline is examined. Monday, August 12 was my first survey.

We start bright and early at 7am. My guide is Lyndsey. She’s a federal researcher and biologist who is an expert in sea turtles, and just about everything else. Lyndsey is charged with surveying the coastline, picking up stranded turtles, and if necessary, performing necropsies (an autopsy for an animal) of the deceased turtles to determine a cause of death.

Our day begins by taking the ferry across to Bolivar so we can kick off the survey. A normal survey averages on 10 hours, but Lyndsey has told me that today, we have some extra jobs to take care of. I’m a little nervous because I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of Lyndsey who has done this a million times. I’ve also never seen a dead turtle, much less help with a necropsy. My stomach rumbles suspiciously. I take a deep breath……let’s do it.

One of the extra tasks of the day is to install signs on the beach with the sea turtle hotline number. This number goes directly to Lyndsey, and she answers it 24/7. If you happen to see a sea turtle on the beach or catch one while fishing, you can call the sea turtle hotline at 1-866-TURTLE-5. If you are fishing and catch a sea turtle, you’re not going to be in trouble and there’s no fine, we just really want to help the animal out so we can release it back into the wild.

After we dug, and dug, and dug to place the signs, we stepped back to enjoy the beautiful new signs on Bolivar peninsula. Be on the lookout for more of these in the near future.

New signs on the beach! Lookout for these if you ever happen to see a sea turtle stranded or in trouble.
New signs on the beach! Lookout for these if you ever happen to see a sea turtle stranded or in trouble.

It was time to continue down the beach on our survey. We ride past locals and tourists alike as Lyndsey discusses the importance of public awareness of the sea turtle population in Galveston. While some of the sea turtles are being reported on the sea turtle hotline, many of the stranded turtles in Galveston go unreported, resulting in an increased number of deaths. With the installation of the new signage, we hope to create a better atmosphere of public awareness and show that anyone who spots a turtle on the beach that they can help. Also, I will be doing my best to spread the message from the Zoo, as we promote the idea of conservation of all animals, especially our local species.

IMAG0165

Fast forward down the beach about 60 miles and Lyndsey and I had finished the actual survey part of the day.  It was a long day which sadly involved burying a couple sea turtles that had washed up on the beach. I’ll spare you the details this time.  However, we weren’t done.

After each survey, Lyndsey spends anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half on Surfside Jetty cleaning up monofilament line. This is the common fishing line found on most fishing reels and on the jetty, it’s EVERYWHERE. When this line gets tangled and cut, it’s free to float in the water where it knots with seaweed, a sea turtle’s favorite food. I think most would agree that seaweed laced with knotted monofilament is not conducive to healthy turtles. If you’re ever on the jetty, check out these great monofilament recycling bins where you can place your knotted and old fishing line.

bins
Monofilament recycling bins and a sea turtle awareness sign on the jetty.

We empty the bins and pick up what we can. While we walk back down the long jetty, Lyndsey says, “Well, that’s it. You finished your first survey.” It’s now about 8:30pm and I can’t believe the day blew by so fast. We drive back to the NOAA sea turtle barn where we unload, and finish up. I’m tired, hungry, and partially sunburnt. The only solace I have is hoping that all that digging, and cleaning, and cutting, and picking up trash might have helped at least one teeny tiny sea turtle. The whole drive home, I can’t wait to get back and start spreading the word about the sea turtles.

Look forward to more sea turtle stories next month!



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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam. Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.

The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/
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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam.  Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years. 
 
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/

 

Comment on Facebook

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr #RIP #bigbangtheory

I know he lived a lot longer due to the excellent care he got at the Zoo.

Is this the one that had the limp?

I saw him limping about 2 weekends ago. The first time we walked by he was fine. When we walked by on the way out he was limping and moaning pretty loudly. I wondered what happened but I figured his keeper already knew or would find out shortly. Super Sad. He was always a lively one.

This was my daughters favorite critter at the Zoo. We always went to say hello to him before anyone else whenever we went. When she was 7 years old we sent a post out to out neighborhood on Halloween saying Paisley was asking for pocket change donations in lieu of candy for Halloween and all amounts would be donated to Kan thru the zoo. She raised over $40 in coins! I still have the letter from the zoo thanking her for her donation. He was a sweet boy and will be missed. 😔

Jaguar habitat is in the Zoo or Jungle's? ??or is only entertainments for person's? ??$$$$$$$!.Sorry animals the person's don't love you ..

Dunno if the Zoo staff considered him a pet but he was certainly a family member, and because of that i offer this: RainbowBridge Author Unknown Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Aww. When interning in the carnivore dept he was one of my faves. So smart! Ashley remember when Angie was teaching him to do the moonwalk after Michael Jackson passed?

Sending love to the keepers that are broken hearted right now. And thank you for all the care you’ve given.

Sorry to hear about your loss. We also lost a jaguar(melanistic variety) at Reid Park Zoo about a year ago. Nikita was 21 years old and was euthanized due to health-related issues. Sad, but they have a GOOD life at the zoo! No predators, a steady food supply, medical attention, loving kindness from her keeper(s) and admiration by the public. Geriatric animals have unique problems and we are blessed to get to know them as long as we do.

Thank you Houston Zoo for taking such good care of him and all the animals! I've been going to this zoo since I was little bitty. I always enjoy it.

Beautiful jaguar ....so grateful for the Houston Zoo keepers and veterinary team that gave their time and efforts to share this awesome jaguar with us for so many years.

He was well-cared for and most of all well-loved. My heartfelt condolences to those missing Kan B as well as me. What an amazing ambassador for his kind. What a beautiful old gentleman. Thank you for loving him into old age and giving him peace.

What a great long life he lived because of his excellent care at the zoo Thoughts go out to his keepers and the entire Houston Zoo staff

Thank you for doing what was right and kind for Kan Balam even though it was hard and painful for you. That’s true love for an animal. ❤️

RIP Kan Balam. You have given the visitors so much pleasure just watching you over these years. You were taken care of by top notch professional handlers, etc.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking such great care of him so he was able to live a long life. My thoughts are with his keepers and all who adored him. <3

Jaguars are one of my favorite and he seems like a sweet boy. I'm so sad but I'm happy he can be painless and be free now. RIP❤️

The Houston Zoo staff has lost several animals this year and I am sure each one is so hard to go through.

Aww I’m so sorry for the loss, I’ve seen him many times, he was absolutely gorgeous! I’m glad that you guys were able to make him comfortable, sometimes the best thing we can do is let them be at peace. Will miss this handsome guy; play hard at the Rainbow Bridge friend, day hi to my cat, Junior for me!! Much love to the HZI staff!!

I am soo sorry for the loss of this handsome fella Kan Balam. May he rest in peace and run free or any pain over the rainbow bridge.. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of the staff at the Zoo.

Katie Rose Buckley-Jones I won’t ever forget the time you asked him to bring something and he ripped off a piece of cardboard and tried to hand it to you ❤️ thank you for introducing me to him. Sending you guys many hugs

So sorry to the keeping staff for your loss i cant imagine how youre feeling :( his old age is a testimony to the amazing care he received

I will miss him. The last time I saw him he looked tired, and it appeared his foot was bothering him.

Sad to hear of this. Thanks for taking such good and compassionate care for him and the other animals.

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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Happy New Year “sea lion keeper “ 💖💖

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Lauren Gonzales

Mike DePope

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