Turtles are often found in the Port Aransas area, and the story of one turtle rescued earlier this summer has a happy ending made possible by the expertise and resources available in Port A.
In June a large 190 lb. green turtle was found floating in the Lydia Ann Channel tangled in monofilament. When it was rescued, they thought it was a male but it later proved to be a female green turtle when she laid eggs!
She was not badly injured and was quickly returned to the sea after having a satellite tag attached. Satellite tagging of sharks was one of the things kids attending the UTMSI Science Camp this summer learned about, so we already knew something about how an interesting collaboration between marine scientists and rocket scientists can really give a boost to our understanding of aquatic life.
At the UT Marine Science Institute Open House this past weekend, Tony Amos talked to the crowd about the turtle rehabilitation work they do. They rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of turtles each year. When possible they return the turtles to the ocean after inserting identification tags under the skin. When turtles are found they can be checked for an i.d. tag but those tags do not transmit data like the one used for the green turtle. Turtles encounter a variety of hazards, mostly of human making. The monofilament the green turtle was tangled in was an example he showed the crowd at the Open House.
He filled the crowd in on how that satellite tag on the green turtle yielded some startling new data just in the past few weeks. The turtle had been tracked moving south along the Texas coast, and then suddenly turned and went across the Gulf, past the Florida Keys, and to Bimini! They had never known that green turtles would migrate from Texas to the Bahamas before. Because the satellite tag data is publicly available, anyone can now track the green turtle’s whereabouts.
The UT Marine Science Center is the home of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep which rescues stranded wildlife (from turtles to birds and everything in between) and provides education about the importance of preserving the richness of the environment that is found along the Texas coast. Most of the research areas are not generally open to the public, but if you’re in Port Aransas be sure to make the Wetland Education Center one of your stops. You’ll probably be amazed at the richness of the environment surrounding the island.