Board Meeting Tip Leads To Help For Cold-Stunned Texas Sea Turtles

Two sea turtles, warmed by volunteers on shore, return to safer waters.

Thanks to a tip during a International Bird Rescue board meeting about the thousands of cold, immobile Green Sea Turtles needing help in Texas, thousands of rescued turtles were transported to warmer waters.

A MSRC employee carries one of the thousands of sea turtles that the oil response services company helped return to warmer waters.

Board member Carmine Dulisse, who is also CEO of Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC), heard the news about the stranded sea turtles from JD Bergeron, Executive Director of Bird Rescue, during a quarterly board meeting. Dulisse immediately messaged his team and by Saturday February 20th, MSRC had activated a 16 person team and a 210 ft. oil spill response vessel to transport sea turtles to safety in warmer waters 30 miles off the coast of South Padre Island.

“It was good timing, I happened to be in a board meeting when Bird Rescue tipped us off about the turtles in need, said Carmine Dulisse. “Fortunately, our MSRC responders were able to mobilize quickly and transport over 3,000 sea turtles to safety.”

The sea turtles had been rescued earlier in the week after being cold-stunned and paralyzed from an unusual, bone-chilling Arctic storm that hit Texas. The sea turtles became cold-stunned after being exposed to cold water causing a hypothermic reaction which can lead to death. The waters around South Padre Island were in the 40s last week, making it too cold for the turtles to survive.

Volunteers rushed to rescue the turtles and most from this area were brought to the South Padre Island Convention Center. Without power at the center, Sea Turtle Inc. the non-profit group that organized the rescue and care, pleaded for community help to keep the turtles warm. Thanks to Elon Musk’s SpaceX response for help, the company donated the generator needed to keep turtle pools warm.

Atlantic Green Sea Turtles are listed as federal and state threatened species in Texas.

At Bird Rescue, we see many stories where it takes a village to save a life, like our origin story. Moments where humans rally to protect wildlife inspire us to keep doing the work we do. As a part of our 50th, in April we’ll be celebrating stories like these. Have you teamed up with a large group to help wildlife in crisis? Share your stories in the comments below.

Following care, MSRC volunteered a ship to transport thousands of sea turtles to safety in warmer Texas waters. All photos © MSRC