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Endangered Sea Turtle Stranded In Wales To Be Released In Texas    

August 31, 2023

Tally the Turtle swimming in a tank at the Anglesey Sea Zoo in the UK.
Tally the Turtle swimming in a tank at the Anglesey Sea Zoo in the UK.

By Rebecca Watts

Galveston TX  Aug. 31, 2023 — Tally, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, arrived in Texas yesterday and will be released next week by the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research after completing a transatlantic journey courtesy of several international partners and volunteers. The private event will return Tally to the Gulf of Mexico after being stranded and near death on the shores of Talacre in Northern Wales in 2021. 

“The cold waters of the Northeast Atlantic usually result in certain death for this species of subtropical sea turtle in the winter,” said Mary Kay Skoruppa, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Texas Sea Turtle Coordinator. “But thanks to the quick response of a great group of international partners and volunteers, Tally is alive and ready to come home.” 

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are primarily found in the Gulf of Mexico and coastal waters of eastern North America but can be swept in the powerful Gulf Stream to waters far from home; it is believed that is what occurred to Tally. Now, 18 months after being rescued and rehabilitated by the Anglesey Sea Zoo, Tally is returning to the Gulf thanks to several key partners. 

Turtles Fly Too, a nonprofit organization that coordinates and facilitates aviation in endangered sea turtle relocation efforts, donated the flight and worked with the Royal Air Force, who helped the nonprofit resolve numerous logistical hurdles to get Tally to Texas. The Houston Zoo, the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research’s veterinary partner, is providing veterinary care and will transfer Tally to the Center next week after receiving a health check. 

“It is an honor for the Center to participate with a host of partners to repatriate this Texas turtle,” said Dr. Christopher Marshall, director of the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research. 

While not all stranded sea turtles receive the royal treatment, a network of organizations regularly partner to support sea turtle rescue and recovery efforts. Texas partners are largely coordinated through the Sea Turtle Standing and Salvage Network, with the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research handling rescue and recovery efforts on the Upper Texas coast, which covers 50 percent of Texas. These coordinated efforts are essential to restore sea turtle populations, a species vital to marine ecosystems and important indicators of ocean health. 

“Sea turtles in Texas, especially green sea turtles, are expanding north and their populations are increasing,” explained Marshall. “This means that the odds of spotting stranded sea turtles are higher today than ever. If the public sees a sea turtle in need on the beach, please call 1-866-TURTLE-5 hotline.”

Texas A&M-Galveston’s Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research, one of a few sea turtle organizations that conducts sea turtle research and conservation in association with a university in the United States, is expanding capabilities to meet this need with a $20 million facility that would quadruple rehabilitation space, accommodate visitors and expand research capabilities. Sea turtles in residence will serve as ambassadors to educate visitors on marine conservation, coastal resiliency and life in coastal Texas. With ecotourism a $172 billion industry in the United States, establishing the Upper Texas Coast Sea Turtle Hospital and Educational Outreach Center in Galveston could bring significant tourism revenue to the region. 

“Many tourists are very interested in the sea turtle species that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico,” said Keith Gray, executive director of the Galveston Economic Development Partnership. “Creating an outreach and education center like the Upper Texas Coast Sea Turtle Hospital and Outreach Center in Galveston, a community more accessible than the lower Texas coast, is a great thing for residents and visitors alike that will provide value to our community for decades to come.” 

The center operates through state grants in a temporary facility and is supported by over 400 community volunteers in the stranding network and rehabilitation hospital. Since opening in December 2020, the center has rescued over 300 sea turtles and worked with partners around the globe. Many of these international partners will be in Galveston next week, joined by Dr. Donna Shaver, Texas State Sea Turtle Stranding Coordinator from Padre Island National Seashore (National Park Service), to celebrate the release of Tally back into the wild. 


If a sea turtle is found on a beach or shoreline, call 1-866-TURTLE-5 for help. 

Partners in Tally’s release include British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Anglesey Sea Zoo, the Royal Air Force, Turtles Fly Too, Houston Zoo, Texas A&M-Galveston’s Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research, Padre Island National Seashore, the Texas Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network. 

To donate to the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research here.

Media interested in covering Tally’s release may RSVP to receive additional details. 



Media contact:

Rebecca Watts, Executive Director, Remote & Branch Campuses

Texas A&M University at Galveston is the marine and maritime branch campus of Texas A&M University which educates nearly 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in science, business, engineering, liberal arts and transportation. It is driving the development of the blue economy in the Gulf Coast Region and is a critical contributor to Texas A&M's rare land-, sea-, space-grant mission with nearly $10 million in research expenditures.

Texas A&M-Galveston is also home to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, one of six state maritime academies and the only one in the southern United States, which trains over 400 cadets annually for maritime service and employment around the world.

Texas A&M-Galveston is located in Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast where it is surrounded by industry, environment and programs essential to fulfilling its special-purpose mission. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and their strong desire to serve.