Thousands of turtles released back into ocean via waterslide

Roughly 8,000 sea turtles became cold-stunned in Texas this winter.

When temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit turtles become cold-stunned or so lethargic they are at risk of drowning. The inclement weather in Texas led to dangerous temperatures for the animals. Numerous organizations like Sea Turtle Inc., the Texas State Aquarium, ordinary volunteers and the U.S. Coast Guard worked together to rehabilitate and rescue the sea turtles of South Padre Island. 

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“They need the water to regulate their body temperature because they’re coldblooded,” Wendy Knight, executive director of Sea Turtle Inc., told TODAY. “So in a cold-stun event, it causes them to float to the surface of the water and, although they know what needs to happen, because they’re unable to lift their heads to draw breath, they drown.”

On Feb. 20, some of the sea turtles were ready to return to the ocean and boy, did they make a splash. Naturalists, volunteers and marine scientists boarded a 70-foot research vessel dubbed the Trident to escort the sea turtles back into the wild. 

The sea turtles got to ride a waterslide from the Trident into the ocean. The slide was fixed onto the edge of a boat and turtles were each given a gentle push to glide into waters by the volunteers. 

“We’ll know probably by Thursday or Friday what the mortality rate of all of the turtles here are and have a little bit of an indication as to our success rate at that time,” Knight told TODAY

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If you enjoyed this story, you might want to read about the Tour de Turtles, a three-month sea turtle marathon.

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