Veterinary care gives turtles a second chance
Even though the Houston Zoo is closed to the public during the worldwide pandemic, the zoo’s work saving animals in the wild does not stop. Recently the zoo-based conservation organization released three green and one Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles back into Christmas Bay and into the Gulf of Mexico respectively. The green sea turtles were each found earlier in the year cold stunned and underweight near Lake Jackson and Freeport. The zoo’s sea turtle hospital keepers transferred the turtles to the Houston Zoo for a veterinary exam and then back to Galveston for care and rehabilitation. The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle was caught on a hook and line a month ago and the hook penetrated the floor of its mouth. The hook was successfully removed and the turtle received antibiotics until the wound healed. Once deemed healthy, all four turtles were returned to the wild.
People are urged to call 1-866-TURTLE-5 if they find or accidentally catch a sea turtle so that an expert can assess the turtle and provide care if needed.
There are five species of sea turtles inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico, all of which are either threatened or endangered. They are the Kemp’s Ridley, green, leatherback, Atlantic hawksbill, and loggerhead.
Some of the threats sea turtles face are plastic pollution; entanglement in recreational fishing line, commercial fishing nets and recreational hooks; vehicle traffic; and development of beaches and light pollution.
Sea turtle populations are slowly recovering thanks to the collaborative effort of scientists, nonprofits, universities, grassroots organizations and many dedicated people.