The cold weather was tough as temperatures dipped down low last week in Texas, causing gulf waters to get very, very cold. In fact, more than 1,000 sea turtles have been rescued in the wake of last week’s arctic blast, a massive infusion of cold air that brought ice and snow and bone-chilling temperatures to much of the Lone Star State, including the entire Texas coast. As of February 7, it appeared that the turtles suffered minimal mortality during rehab and most were in the process of being released back into the Gulf.
Aerial flyover today was expected to provide a better handle on impacts to the fisheries, but initial reports indicate only minor isolated fish kills. Fisheries professionals in Texas will be focusing efforts in the days ahead on assessing resource impacts. Among the conservation measures employed to help protect the resource was a set of temporary fishing closures around deepwater thermal refuges and a voluntary suspension of barge traffic in the Lower Laguna Madre.
Extreme cold weather is tough on both wildlife and habitat. Fish and reptiles are no different. An important fact to keep in mind is that animal populations rise and fall with climatic conditions. Although it appears no major impacts have occurred on fisheries or turtle resources in the gulf, you know wildlife professionals will be keeping an eye on the situation.