SEA LIFE Grapevine Receives Sea Turtles As Holiday Surprise

sea turtle
SEA LIFE Grapevine animal care team treating the rescued Kemps Ridley sea turtles Photo Courtesy Merlin Entertainments plc

Visit SEA LIFE Grapevine To View Rescued Sea Turtles

Grapevine, TX – The holidays just got even more heartwarming with a touch of creature cuteness. SEA LIFE Grapevine welcomed 10 rescued toddler Kemps Ridley sea turtles from the Atlantic Ocean that were cold-stunned and will go for their first test swim in their temporary home this Thursday, December 10th, at 10:30AM. Karen Rifenbury, SEA LIFE Grapevine Curator, jumped into action when the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office notified her of the need to house the 2 to 3-year-old sea turtles.

Turtles Fly Too flew 120 sea turtles over 2,000 miles, after being rescued at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to various aquariums. Being North Texas’ first sea turtle hospital, the Aquarium is well-equipped to give these less than 10-inch turtles a temporary home and treatment as they rehabilitate before being released into the Gulf of Mexico once they are healthy enough to return.

animal care team treating sea turtle
SEA LIFE Grapevine animal care team treating the rescued Kemps Ridley sea turtles. Photo courtesy Merlin Entertainments plc

Rescued Turtles Named After Reindeer

With the holiday season upon us, the rescued Kemps Ridley sea turtles will be given names after the famous reindeer along with special holiday décor to welcome the special creatures to SEA LIFE Grapevine. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and yes, even Rudolph and his girlfriend Clarice, the rescued sea turtles can be seen by guests as they rehab for at least a month in its Sea Turtle Rescue Center exhibit before they are released.

“We love working with and teaching our guests the amazing stories of creatures of the ocean. Our animal care team at SEA LIFE is excited for the opportunity to participate in this statewide conservation effort by rehabilitating these rescued sea turtles and releasing them back into the ocean when they are ready,” said Karen Rifenbury, SEA LIFE Grapevine Curator. “Guests of SEA LIFE can see first-hand how we rehabilitate these amazing sea turtles and how they can help sea creatures like them thrive in the wild.”

One of The Largest Sea Turtle Transports Ever

Sea turtles are cold-blooded and rely on heat from their environment to maintain their body temperatures. When water temperatures drop rapidly, they become lethargic and unable to swim due to the cold. Many of the turtles have pneumonia, and some have other medical conditions or injuries from being washed against rocks. They require expert care—but with so many turtles, the rehabilitation facilities are filling up. And it’s only early December. The cold-stun season usually lasts until late December or early January.

“We’ve already transported more than 200 turtles out of the state, so we are running out of options for long-term care. The Texas rehabilitation facilities have generously offered their assistance, which is a huge help to us. This transport was one of the largest ever,” says Kate Sampson, NOAA Fisheries sea turtle stranding and disentanglement coordinator for the Greater Atlantic Region. It’s her job to coordinate the safe placement of each sea turtle. “For an endangered species like Kemp’s Ridley, it is important to save as many individuals as possible to contribute to the recovery of the species. We’re so grateful to all of the dedicated and caring people who make this effort happen.”

Purchase Sea Life Grapevine Tickets Online

Guests can visit to purchase tickets online and check out SEA LIFE Grapevine’s visit safety tips.

SEA LIFE Grapevine transports you into the amazing underwater world. Prepare for astonishingly close views of everything from humble starfish and seahorses to graceful rays and powerful sharks. With an amazing 360° ocean tunnel, 30 display tanks and thousands of sea creatures the aquarium is the perfect stop for family fun.

Admission is currently $15 for adults and children for limited time. Normally it’s $22.95 for adults, $18.95 for children ages 3 to 12. For more information visit SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium is located at 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine, TX 76051. Phone: 469-444-3050. Follow us on Facebook: @sealifegrapevine, Twitter @sealifegrpevine and Instagram: @sealifeusa.

Facts About Endangered Turtles

NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service share responsibility for helping these endangered turtles recover. Kemp’s ridleys have been listed as endangered since 1970. The population experienced a rapid and significant decline between the late 1940s and the mid-1980s. This dramatic decline resulted from intensive egg collection, killing of nesting females, and bycatch and drowning in the shrimp fleets of the U.S. and Mexico. Due to intensive conservation actions, Kemp’s ridleys began to slowly rebound during the 1990s.

However, an overall decline in nests was observed from 2009 through 2017, when total documented nests reached near 25,000. At this time, it is unclear if future nesting will steadily and continuously increase, similar to what occurred from 1990-2009. It’s also possible that nesting will continue to exhibit ups and downs as recorded in the past 5 years. The most recent 5-year status review conducted by NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that Kemp’s ridley remain in danger of extinction.