News Roundup: Gulf Coast Seat Turtles Affected By This Week’s Cold Weather Are On The Mend

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelNovember 16, 2018 11:12 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Green sea turtles along the Texas Gulf Coast are on the mend after being stunned by cold temperatures earlier this week. When this happens, the sea turtles can no longer swim or move. They float to the water’s surface, making them easy prey.

Chris Havel is a senior aquarist at SeaWorld San Antonio, who was helping with recovery efforts in Laguna Madre this week.

He says that while these stunning events are naturally-occurring, they are becoming more common.

“The data shows that there has been an increase. It’s become a seasonal event every single year when historically it hasn’t always been that way,” Havel says. “The number are going up, last year was one of the highest ever recorded seasons. Hopefully this year we’re not going to have a repeat of that when there were that many turtles found.”

Havel explains one reason for this increase is man-made changes along the coast, such as shipping channels and jetties for fishing and boating.

“If those shipping channels weren’t there, a lot of times the animals in the past would get natural cues as the air starts to cool down gradually they would leave and they would have a harder time getting back in there,” he says. “But these jetties and these channels are making it easier for the turtles to get in there. It’s providing a lot of food sources for them to stay in there, longer than they normally would have in the past.”

Havel says just under 20 turtles were recovered in the two days his team and partner organizations were working on the coast.

He says that’s good news compared to last year, when there were days when they would rescue over 100 turtles in one day, just on the SeaWorld boat, alone. He adds that when his team left the area on Thursday, they didn’t see any more affected animals.

“And we saw numerous sea turtles as the water was warming up acting like normal sea turtles. They’d come to the surface, get a breath, and then dive and get out of the way,” Havel says.

Havel expects the turtles that were recovered to be released in the next few days as water temperatures heat back up.

New data show Texas leads the nation in deportations, through a major immigration enforcement program. El Paso County saw the most deportations in the country, with Harris County ranking third nationwide.

Elizabeth Trovall with Houston Public Media reports.

Texas averaged some 2,000 deportations per month during the first nine months of fiscal year 2018. That’s according to new Syracuse University data. Total deportations in Harris County alone were over 1,800 in that same time frame. Numbers offer a glimpse at immigration enforcement at a state and county level, but not a complete picture, says Syracuse University’s Susan Long.

“It would be nice to do this for all ICE removals, but ICE contends it isn’t possible,” she says.

Long says ICE claims to only track “secure communities” data at a county level – those are deportations that have relied on FBI fingerprint data and often involve local law enforcement.

“What we do have are secure communities – which are a very substantial part of ICE removals,” Long says.

Previous research on the secure communities program show the vast majority of people deported hadn’t committed violent crimes.

The cost of gasoline is continuing to drop this month, and that’s good news for Texans planning to hit the road for Thanksgiving. According to AAA Texas, nearly 4 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more by car to get to their holiday destination. That’s the highest projected number since 2005.

Joshua Zuber is a spokesperson for AAA Texas.

“Gas price-wise we have been seeing those prices decrease as we’ve moved into November and right now sitting at an average price of 2-37 a gallon in Texas. That’s down 8 cents from last week,” Zuber says.

Zuber adds he can’t offer a prediction for whether gas will be even in cheaper next week.

“However, when we look forward to the rest of fall getting into winter, we typically do see the least expensive gas prices this time of the year,” Zuber says. “And the trend from summer into fall and winter as we do see those prices fall thanks to that winter blend gasoline which is less expensive to produce.”

Drivers in Midland are paying the most on average for a gallon of gas at $2.93. Those in Sherman-Denison are getting the best deal in the state, paying, on average, $2.16 per gallon.