Endangered sea turtles survive Hurricane Harvey damage


   As Hurricane Harvey moved toward Port Aransas most people left, but a five dozen of the stranded marine life at the Amos Rehabilitation Keep stood their ground. To be exact, 60 sea turtles rode out the storm in partially submerged concrete tanks on the campus of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.

When it was over, twisted metal, torn roofs and blown out windows are what remained of the refuge. Overall, the UT campus suffered major damage and it could be months before it reopens. 

“We got there opened up the gates and luckily enough, everything (the turtles) survives, so it was great to see,” said Jace Tunnell, director of Mission-Aransas.

Volunteers with the ark give a lot of their time nursing the animals back to good health, so they can be released back into the wild.

On Sunday, the turtles determined to be strong enough ventured out to sea. Volunteers released about 30 into the gulf of mexico. The rest traveled in the bed of a pickup truck to their new home at the Texas Sealife Center on Padre Island where they are expected to make a full recovery.

"They need surgery to be able to release those, so those are here,” Tunnell said. “Starting tomorrow, actually, they're going to go through and start doing physicals on each of the animals that came in."

For now, the center is the ARK's new home for rescued marine life. The turtles were joined by a flock of recovering birds. They settled in earlier this week after being evacuated from the ARK to a volunteer's front porch to weather the storm.

“He kept all 40 birds on his back porch,” Tunnell said. “His mom wasn't very happy about that, but she was glad whenever we were able to bring them here."

Since Harvey hit, two new feathered faces have joined center. Alicia walker found the pelicans on the beach in Port Aransas.

“They're getting some food, some water, some fluids and we're going to see how they progress and hopefully they'll be released pretty soon,” Walker said.

To report injured marine life, call Alicia Walker at 337-290-0251\

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