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Turtles Rescued During Icy Storm Returned To The Wild

Amos Rehabilitation Keep at UT Marine Science Institute via Storyful
Amos Rehabilitation Keep at UT Marine Science Institute via Storyful

The massive rescue of green sea turtles along the Texas coast came to a close last week as thousands of the animals were released back into the wild.

It’s estimated at around 12,000 cold-stunned green sea turtles were brought into various facilities along the coast. The turtles had been kept inside and out of the water for anywhere from one to four days.

"We went 20 miles offshore, and that's where the water temperatures were right, about 56-57 degrees," said Jace Tunnell the reserve director at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas.

Tunnell headed up one of the many operations to rescue and return the animals.

And when the turtles were finally returned to the sea, Brandon Otwell said they seemed happy.

"They could tell where home was and when they seen home, they were so very, very happy," Otwell said.

Otwell is a crew member who helped release the turtles from the Scat Cat, a 72-foot fishing charter boat out of Port Aransas. The owners donated its services for the effort.

Researchers are still studying the event, but it's estimated that around 50% of the turtle population was lost along the Texas coast due to the freeze.

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Jerry Clayton can be reached at jerry@tpr.org or on Twitter at @jerryclayton.