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Large batch of green sea turtles released following cold front

Approximately 60 turtles were released from Isla Blanca Park into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday afternoon.

Approximately 60 turtles were released from Isla Blanca Park into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday afternoon.

This marks one of the biggest batches of turtles released by volunteers of Sea Turtle, Inc, a non-profit organization based in South Padre.

“When we get cold fronts like the one we just had with the snow on the island and in the valley, it gets very cold and the turtles go into a state of shock,” said Kat Lillie, assistant curator at Sea Turtle, Inc.

The turtles are recovered on the bay side of the island and taken to the organization’s facility. There, they are kept in containers that regulate their temperature.

But the cold weather is not the only threat to the endangered species. Poaching and pollution also contribute to the decline of the Green Sea turtles, said Jeff George, executive director of the organization.

This year George and his staff oversaw the care of around 325 turtles. Of those, nearly half had ingested some type of plastic.

This has implications not only for the local ecosystem, but the global one as well, said George.

“These turtles were born in the Yucatán, they are growing up in the Laguna Madre,” George said. “And when they get hit about 100-200 ponds they disappear. Where do they go? Back to the Yucatán to be moms and dads. So the Laguna Madre is a very very important habitat for the green population from Mexico.”

The event, he added, is intended to not only to ensure the safe return of the turtles to the water, but also to educate the public on the the factors that threaten them.

“This was equally as important to show these children, tourists and locals that these animals matter,” he said.

About 100 locals and tourists attended the event.

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