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Texas coastal flooding strands about 100 endangered turtles

In this May 24, 2019 photo, provided by the Texas State Aquarium, a sea turtle is seen during rescue and rehabilitation at the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. Experts say coastal flooding associated with May storms that buffeted other parts of Texas stranded about 100 endangered green sea turtles along the Gulf shore. Jesse Gilbert with the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center said Monday, June 3, 2019, that the young turtles "couldn't beat the waves" and were pushed onto Padre Island National Seashore. Officials transported the turtles to the aquarium in Corpus Christi. (Texas State Aquarium via AP)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — High tides and flooding associated with May storms that buffeted parts of Texas caused the stranding of about 100 young sea turtles along part of the Gulf coast, experts say.

Jesse Gilbert, Chief Operating Officer of the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, said Monday that the juvenile green sea turtles “just couldn’t beat the waves” and were tossed around along the shore. The turtles were caught in water pushed up against the dunes on Padre Island National Seashore, Gilbert said.

Wildlife officials helped gather and transport the green sea turtles, with the largest about the size of a dinner plate, to the aquarium, he said.

“They literally just looked exhausted. They were a little bit dehydrated,” said Gilbert, describing the endangered turtles.

During normal spring weather the wildlife center may have about a half-dozen young turtles wash ashore each month. More than 100 green sea turtles were rescued during two weeks starting in mid-May, Gilbert said.

About 80 of the rested turtles were released into the Gulf of Mexico last Thursday. Most of the rest should be returned to the water this week, he said.

The National Weather Service on May 12 began issuing about 11 days of coastal flooding advisories. Meteorologist Kevin Wagner in Corpus Christi said Monday that stronger southeasterly winds were caused by storm systems father north, along with higher than normal tides. The winds were feeding all the moisture into the storms up in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, plus the Central Plains, according to Wagner.

Tourists and other visitors should contact wildlife officials if they spot stranded turtles along the Texas coast, Gilbert said.

“Don’t pick them up,” Gilbert said, noting the green sea turtle is a protected species.

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This story has been corrected to show that the National Weather Service began issuing about 11 days of coastal flooding advisories, not about 10 days.

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