Updated: February 18, 2021 10:37:44 am
Aa a severe winter storm gripped Texas, humans were not the only ones suffering alone amid frigid temperatures. As the storm knocked out power, animals were also facing the burnt. However, thanks to scores of people coming together, a massive turtle rescue mission has been launched now.
Thousands of sea turtles have been rescued by volunteers on South Padre Island, Texas, after record low temperatures stunned the residents amid a winter storm Uri. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the animals rely on external sources of heat to maintain their body temperatures. When temperatures in the water reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit or below, turtles are cold-stunned.
“A cold-stunned turtle is not able to move very well, if at all. They may be pushed by strong winds or currents onto the shore or into marsh areas, or just float at the water’s surface,” their website explained.
I’m dealing with power and water issues like countless others hospitals in Texas. My husband Dustin currently has a car full of cold stunned sea turtles. South Padre Island has a small sea turtle rescue that needs help. https://t.co/MKsw4KEJ56 pic.twitter.com/LAaoXX0MqU
— W.K. Robinson (@WKRobinsonRN) February 16, 2021
Every year, volunteers expect to rescue some turtles through a few cold snaps, but this year couple with sub-zero temperature and a power outage, it was a massive task for the rescuers. Volunteers have been visiting beaches to pull out the animals from freezing waters and transporting them back to shelter in their cars.
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
This is all the great work of Sea Turtle, Inc. on South Padre Island. You can read more & support them here: https://t.co/TgVLGk9FzQ
— Lara (@lara_hand) February 16, 2021
Some turtles have been relocated to a conservation facility but when it ran out of space, others are being temporarily housed at the South Padre Island Convention Center, WFLA reported. As of Tuesday evening, the group said they were sheltering more than 2,500 turtles from hypothermia, but their wildlife sanctuary was still without power after losing it the day before.
“We’re undergoing one of the largest cold-stun events the island has seen in more than a decade,” Sea Turtle, Inc. Executive Director Wendy Knight told FOX59. “Unfortunately, at 2 o’clock this morning we lost power, and as a result of that we have five 25-to-55,000 gallon tanks filled with these beautiful creatures that have lived here on South Padre Island for almost 40 years that are very close to perishing.” The rescue group is now asking for donations to continue the work.
Ed Caum, Executive Director, Convention and Visitors Bureau in the city too have been updating all about the rescue mission and is raising funds.
Some of the rescued turtles are even over 100 years old and volunteers are ensuring the water temperatures are monitored keeping the endangered animals safe.
Underling that “safety is the #1 priority with search and rescue”, the conservation agency warned people not go out at night. “We are ending rescues for the day and will be out again tomorrow. If you find any sea turtles tomorrow morning please call our emergency sea turtle line #956-243-4361.”
The waters along South Padre Island, a slim barrier island that hugs the southern Texas coast along the Gulf of Mexico, and the nearby Laguna Madre are normally balmy enough to keep turtles native to the region active, Gizmodo reported.
Meteorologists blame the historic chilly weather on a large disruption of the polar vortex with Arctic weather that’s normally kept penned near the North Pole, but it escaped and sent cold temperatures south.
[With inputs from AP]
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