3 Tips For Saving Sea Turtles During An Emergency Situation


Have you ever come across a sea turtle that had been hit by a boat prop?

Or a sea turtle floating at the surface during a freeze?

In this video, I’ve got Capt. Nathan Fulks here talking about how to save sea turtles during an emergency.

Obviously, you don’t want to mess with them if it’s not an emergency, but if it is, this video will give you some tips on what you can do to help.

Check it out below.

Helping Sea Turtles In An Emergency [VIDEO]

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Due to the historic freeze in Texas, thousands of sea turtles needed to be rescued before they passed away of hypothermia.

The game wardens asked for the community’s help, and I was able to join Capt. Nathan Fulks and his son to rescue some.

It was the largest sea turtle rescue in history.

So if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to help a sea turtle out, here are some tips:

1. Make sure the turtle is actually in need

When the water gets below 50 degrees, sea turtles start to get hypothermia.

You’ll see them floating on the surface where they can barely hold their heads up.

If you pull your boat up to them and they don’t swim away, they probably need your help.

On the other hand, if they do swim away, then they probably don’t.

Many turtles suffering from hypothermia look like they’ve already passed away, but you can check by rubbing your hands along the back of their necks (if they’re alive, they’ll retract their heads).

They can often be found in areas of warm water during freezes like this, such as deep shipping channels.

Another situation where a turtle might need help is if they’ve been hit by a boat prop and are sliced up pretty bad.

2. Pick them up and transport them carefully.

Pick up sea turtles by their shell, never their flippers.

If they’re really big, you may need to tow them into shallow water where you can get out of the boat and hoist them into it.

And when you’re transporting them in your boat or vehicle, make sure they’re not bumping up and down.

3. Contact your local turtle rescue

If you see a turtle in need, or want to know if your local rescue needs help saving cold-stunned turtles, give your local turtle rescue a call.


sea turtle rescuing

If your area is experiencing a bad freeze and you see turtles floating on the surface, or you see a turtle who’s been hit by a boat, do your best to try to help them.

Contact your local turtle rescue for more tips on what you should do.

And if you want to book a trip with Capt. Nathan Fulks in South Texas, click here.

Have any questions about how we were able to help these turtles?

Let us know down in the comments!

P.S. Want access to our best fishing spots and tips, plus discounts to our online tackle store? Click here to join us and Eric in the Insider Club!

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A Rollins
2 years ago

I like turtles.

Loren Yeager
2 years ago

Wonderful post! Maybe more conservation posts could make us all even better sportsmen/women and conservationists. Glad to see Nathan doing well for himself and others. Nathan and I served in the same army platoon together a long long time ago. I’ve always respected him and tried to model myself after him. He was one of the finest NCOs I’ve ever known and a Badass to boot.

Last edited 2 years ago by Loren Yeager
Mark Tochtenhagen
2 years ago

Well done Wyatt! It’s great to see SaltStrong contributing to the preservation of this great resource in Texas’ greatest time of need.

Jamie Beadle
2 years ago

Love seeing this Wyatt. I really enjoy some of the content that’s been done around the science of the inshore environment and some of the other critters that inhabit it.

Adam Bailey
3 years ago

The links I included have information developed with veterinarians. Some care is easy and straightforward, like cutting fishing line close to a hook that can’t be removed safely. However, even the best of intentions can harm rather than help if not done properly. Fish On!

Last edited 3 years ago by Adam Bailey
Adam Bailey
3 years ago

Hi, Wyatt. I’m glad that you and others were able to help so many animals.
However, towing or dragging any turtle with a boat is not a good idea for amateurs. A cold-stunned turtle is likely very weak already and you may accidentally drown it if it cannot take a breath when it needs to (called forced submergence).
Also, if anyone ever accidentally hooks or entangles a turtle, or any other animal like a seabird or even fish, try to remove as much line as safely possible. Don’t pull hard on the line and don’t try to remove a hook if it may further injure the animal. Cut the line as close to the hook as you can, and carefully release the animal. The trailing line is much more dangerous to an animal than a hook.
Some guidelines for hook and line fisheries: https://media.fisheries.noaa.gov/dam-migration/sero_sea_turtle_handling_release_guidel_quick_reference_for_handl_placard_english_4-24-19.pdf
You can find a lot more information at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/endangered-species-conservation/sea-turtle-and-smalltooth-sawfish-release-gear-protocols

Adam Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Wyatt Parcel

Thanks for the clarifications, Wyatt! I thought you may have done what you said but erred on the side of posting in case others were also confused. Also for anyone reading, be very careful of those jaws! The jaws can easily crush fingers and toes.


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