The Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Program, the only one in Texas licensed to care for
injured marine mammals, sea turtles, shore and water birds, and raptors, provided
wildlife rescue treatment and rehabilitation for nearly 589 injured or ill coastal wildlife in 2019.
Rescued Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, Champ, during his rehabilitation at the Wildlife Rescue Center and ultimate return to the Gulf of Mexico.
Of these animals, 296 sea turtles injured due to coastal tidal surge or cold stunning were able to be released back into the Gulf of Mexico. One of the most notable releases this past year was Champ, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle rescued right after Hurricane Harvey in September 2017. Weak and missing a front flipper, Champ weighed only 67 grams fitting in the palm of your hand. After nearly two years of care and extensive rehabilitation, Champ weighed in at more than 6.9 kilograms and was
deemed capable of being released. On September 28, 2019, the Aquarium said a bittersweet goodbye to Champ as he was released at Padre Island National Seashore and energetically swam off into the Gulf of Mexico. An important aspect of the Aquarium Program is being prepared for a possible chemical or oil spill, which could negatively impact large scale numbers of coastal wildlife. Therefore, in 2019, nine Wildlife Rescue staff were certified in responding to hazardous
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