Turtle Tuesday: Conservation Hero Edition

The Houston Zoo just returned from another Monday assisting federal sea turtle biologists from NOAA Galveston with their weekly beach patrols. Unfortunately, this has been a tough time for local sea turtle conservationists. Numerous deceased turtles have been washing ashore for the past several weeks, and more keep coming in. The numbers of turtles washing in are not typical. They have included mostly Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and loggerheads.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. Photo courtesy of National Park Service.


Loggerhead sea turtle. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Aquarium.

In addition to this, there has yet to be a nesting Kemp’s ridley turtle on our upper Texas coast.  Nesting sea turtles usually arrive in our area by mid-April. With the month of May right on our tails, we’re all wondering-where are our nesting sea turtles?

Even though there aren’t any nesting sea turtles (yet…),  sea turtle biologists are keeping busy…VERY busy, and not with the easiest of tasks.

Meet Lyndsey Howell.

Lyndsey Howell-NOAA sea turtle biologist holding a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. Photo courtesy of Crystal Beach Local News.

Lyndsey is a federal biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Galveston. Lyndsey has been working with sea turtles for 8 years, and working at NOAA for 5 years. The word dedicated does not even begin to describe her work ethic when it comes to sea turtles. Lyndsey is responsible for holding the phone that you call if you see a dead, injured, or stranded turtle on our upper Texas coast beaches (1-866-TURTLE-5), as well as caring for wild and captive sea turtles at the Galveston sea turtle barn. She is also responsible for answering that phone-no matter what time or day it is, and responding to the turtle as soon as possible. Whether it is 2:00am on a Saturday or 11:00pm on a Tuesday-7 days a week, 24 hours a day, Lyndsey is there to help a sea turtle in need. A turtle could be called in from Surfside and the next one along the Texas/Louisiana border-in the same day! No matter the distance, the turtle will be picked up and taken care of. She will even take time out of an already long day, roll the windows down in her vehicle and answer questions about sea turtles from beach goers, say hello to ferry workers and tollbooth employees, all while maintaining a smile.

Lyndsey rescuing another car stuck in the sand during a beach survey-just another day on the job!

From April through July, sea turtles keep biologists in Texas very busy. This means long, long hours (our day yesterday lasted 14 hours), and not a lot of days off. The passion and drive that wildlife biologists/conservationists/researchers (call them what you may) have is unlike any other field. They work endless hours, often times without praise or breaks, and usually for very little pay. They do this job because they love it, and they know it is important.

Time in the field often requires a lot of caffeine. Image from Ecogreenbags.

Unfortunate events, like the loss of many sea turtles over the past few weeks can make it difficult to work in wildlife conservation. However, having the pleasure of knowing people like Lyndsey and other biologists and conservationists around the world reinforce the idea that environmental issues can be overcome.

If you would like to help with local sea turtle conservation efforts, please visit the Houston Zoo’s sea turtle page, or come to the zoo to see our rehabbed sea turtle in the Kipp Aquarium!

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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!

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

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂


Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Mike DePope

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We've heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing? ... See MoreSee Less


Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?


Comment on Facebook

Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

I fell for the mouse thing too..

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Johnnie R. Summerlin, cool, see the "stalagm ice"?

Wow,that is so neat!

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!


Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Ashley Nguyen

Vicente Gonzalez

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Brrrr. It’s cold out there! We have made the decision to close the Houston Zoo tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 17. Don’t worry, the animals are safe and warm in their night houses!

A limited number of staff from departments like Animal Programs, Safety and Security and Operations/Facilities will be onsite to perform essential services and have the Zoo ready for us to reopen Thursday morning.

A big ol' high-five to our awesome team members who braved this icy cold to come in and care for our animals and zoo facilities.
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Comment on Facebook

Safety and welfare of the animals first! Thanks guys for all you do.

Yes thank you for everything yall do to keep the animals safe .. y'all keep safe and warm

Thank you for taking good care of our animals!

Thank u for keeping those Babies safe and warm!❤️

Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for ZOO LIGHTS. it was amazing this year!

Thank you, zoo team. Stay safe!

Mandy Rinker— really? Too cold? You’re from the Midwest girl


thank you for all you do and keep the furry babies warm


Thank you for taking care of our precious animals that we love to come see!

Thank you for keeping those beautiful animals safe. 💕

Thank you for making sure the animals are safe and warm.

Thank you for all you do for these amazing animals!!

Go, Erika!!!

Thank you 💕


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