Sea Turtles

2017 Successes:

There are 5 species of sea turtles inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico, all of which are considered to be either threatened or endangered. They include the Kemp’s ridley, green, leatherback, Atlantic hawksbill, and loggerhead sea turtles.

Some of the threats sea turtles face in the Gulf are:

  • Plastic pollution
  • Entanglement in recreational fishing line, commercial fishing nets and recreational hooks
  • Vehicle traffic
  • Development of beaches and light pollution

Sea turtle populations are slowly recovering thanks to the collaborative effort of scientists, non-profits, universities, grass roots organizations and many dedicated people. The Houston Zoo has treated over 400 sea turtles since 2010 in our veterinary clinic, which are then brought to the sea turtle barn in Galveston to prepare for reintroduction. You may also catch a glimpse of a recovering sea turtle at the Zoo in the Kipp Aquarium.

We also assist by:

  • Holding sea turtle events on Zoo grounds to increase awareness about sea turtles
  • Educating teachers and students about sea turtle conservation efforts in Texas
  • Partially funding and designing sea turtle awareness signs that are posted on Galveston beaches.  Installed 100 sea turtle awareness and education signs on Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island.
  • Participating in weekly beach surveys to look for stranded or nesting sea turtles.
  • Supporting partial funding and construction of monofilament (fishing line) recycling bins to decrease the occurrences of sea turtle entanglement.
  • Organizing beach and jetty cleanups to ensure trash does not end up in sea turtle habitat

Sea Turtle Success

In 2015, we rehabilitated 124 sea turtles in the Zoo’s vet clinic, thanks to the support of our nearly 2.5 million guests who entered the Zoo and helped save wildlife.

How You Can Help

  • Call 1-866-TURTLE-5 if you see a sea turtle on the beach, or if you see sea turtle tracks on the beach that run from the water to the dunes – if the turtle has finished nesting, there will be another set of tracks running back to the water. Tracks for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles will be drags about 2 ft in diameter, and you should see marks from their flippers and flipper claw.
  • Be a hero; reduce your use of plastic!
    • Use biodegradable garbage and doggie bags, they break down naturally and don’t leave harmful chemicals behind!
    • Use a reusable bag whenever you shop. seaturtlebagThe reusable bags seen here can be purchased at the Houston Zoo Gift Shop, with proceeds going towards sea turtle saving efforts!
    • Buy a reusable water bottle and you’ll never need to drink out of a plastic water bottle again!
    • Avoid party balloons if possible! When these items deflate they
      often end up in the ocean and sea turtles may eat them thinking they are food.
  • Learn more about sea turtles and educate your friends and family about them  Learn More about Sea Turtles

Donate now to help sea turtles: