The reptiles became “cold stunned” and paralyzed due to the frigid weather.
The effects of the deadly winter storm in Texas are not just being felt by humans, but by the animals too. Many sea turtles have also had to bear the brunt of the frigid temperature and along the coastline, many have been stunned by the life-threatening cold. Fortunately, a bunch of kind-hearted volunteers has been doing their bit to save these animals. Sea Turtle, Inc. on South Padre Island, a local rescue group, has been working tirelessly to help save as many of these reptiles as possible, reports the Dodo.
Sea Turtle, Inc. is an organization whose goal is to “rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea turtles.” As the temperatures have dropped recently, the chill can cause these animals to become “cold-stunned.” “They need the water to regulate their body temperature because they're coldblooded,” Wendy Knight, executive director of Sea Turtle Inc., told TODAY’s Kerry Sanders. “So in a cold-stun event, it causes them to float to the surface of the water and, although they know what needs to happen because they're unable to lift their heads to draw breath, they drown.”
My mom is retired, & she spends her winters volunteering at a sea turtle rescue center in south Texas. The cold snap is stunning the local turtles & they’re doing a lot of rescues. She sent me this photo today of the back of her Subaru. It’s *literally* turtles all the way down. pic.twitter.com/xaDRNjLDoQ— Lara (@lara_hand) February 15, 2021
The South Padre Island Convention Centre and Visitors Bureau has also become a temporary shelter for at least 3,500 turtles so far. “We are closely monitoring the condition of the turtles here to make sure they continue to stay regulated with their body temperatures,” Knight said. Some Texans are even transporting the cold-blooded animals in their cars to save them from the winter storm.
I'm glad you all appreciate my awesome mom! Some turtle updates: they rescued over 1,000 turtles yesterday, and expect 2 more days of cold-stun water temps. So lots more rescues to come.— Lara (@lara_hand) February 16, 2021
Many people, on their boats, have been coming together to scoop up cold-stunned turtles from the water. Other volunteers went on foot and have been looking around the beach.
Once they've spotted the cold-stunned animals they load them up into their car trunks and truck beds, reports The Washington Post. “It is a huge, huge community effort,” said Gina McLellan, a 71-year-old retired professor, and volunteer. “We very often don’t even think about the [cold’s] impact on animals, because we’re so worried about our own electricity and water. With this kind of event, it’s a classic display of humanity toward animals.”
Texas Game Wardens assigned to Cameron county rescued 141 sea turtles from the frigid waters of the Brownsville Ship Channel and surrounding bays. The sea turtles were transported via the PV Murchison, operated by Sgt. Game Warden Duke and B/M Bowers-Vest. pic.twitter.com/LqFBrElTog— Texas Game Warden (@TexasGameWarden) February 17, 2021
McLellan spent hours outside the convention center where she and others take the animals from vehicles onto dollies and then cart them over inside the center. The inside of the space looks like a football field, according to McLellan except “with turtles laying side-by-side-by-side, row-after-row." The effort to save these turtles is ongoing but Knight shared that they need additional help from the power grid. “If we don’t get some relief from a power standpoint,” she said, “we’re not going to be able to sustain this."
To find out how you can help, visit Sea Turtle, Inc here.