Dozens of residents in Texas‘ South Padre Island beach town have braved the deadly winter storm to rescue endangered sea turtles.
Volunteers working with the local rescue group Sea Turtle, Inc. have taken more than 4,000 frozen turtles for rehabilitation at the town’s convention center, the Washington Post reported.
Conservationists hope to raise their body heat gradually as they lie on tarps and kiddie pools indoors.
Wendy Knight, the executive director of the rescue group, told the outlet that the situation is ‘unprecedented’ and she fears hundreds of them may have already succumbed to ‘cold stun.’
‘A cold stun like this could have the potential to wipe out decades of hard work, and we’re going through it with no power and a unique, more catastrophic challenge to our efforts,’ she told the outlet.
More than 4,000 sea turtles have been rescued in Texas after the winter storm caused the reptiles to experience ‘cold stun’
Volunteers have placed the paralyzed turtles on tarps and in plastic tubs as they try to warm their body temperatures
The organization said that a man named Captain Henry rescued more than 100 turtles
Tagged sea turtles lie in a tub as volunteers work to warm their body temperatures after the winter storm
Turtle rescuers fear that hundreds of them may have already succumbed to ‘cold stun’
Turtles have been brought to the South Padre Island convention center after the Sea Turtle, Inc. facility filled
Workers unload sea turtles from the back of a pickup truck in South Padre Island, Texas
Volunteers normally rescue from a few dozen to a few hundred cold-stunned turtles, warming them inside the group’s rescue center.
Cold stun is a condition experienced by sea turtles at extremely low temperatures which paralyzes them and prevents them from eating or keeping their heads above water, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The dangerous arctic cold has left more than a dozen humans dead as millions of people across the south, particularly in Texas, face widespread power outages.
Knight told CBS News that Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, which has a facility on the Island, provided the organization with a large enough generator to restore power to its main facility allowing the group to heat water for the turtles.
‘We do not yet know if this was in time to save our patients in the hospital but this is a huge step forward,’ Knight told the outlet.
‘This is what putting passion into action means and the service they provided us this morning will save countless turtles and will be something we are truly grateful for.’
The convention center location remained without heat and water on Wednesday, Knight said.
Texas has scene an unprecedented winter snow storm that has left millions in the state without power
Jose’ Nives tries to shovel his way out after getting stuck in the middle of the street on Wednesday in Austin, Texas
Conservationists told the Washington Post it may take days to determine how many turtles have been able to survive the shocking cold.
According to the group, the green sea turtles live year-round in the salty Laguna Madre and eat thick, underwater vegetation helping keep the ecosystem balanced.
Volunteers went out on boats to scoop up cold-stunned turtles from the water as others scanned the beach on foot and loaded them into their cars.
Rehab staff conducting laser therapy on a juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle patient
A cold stun like the one experienced in Texas could have the potential to wipe out decades of work by conservationists
South Padre Island sea temperature rarely drop below 50 degrees, the temperature which can cause the cold stun
One Twitter user posted a photo showing the turtles filling the back of a Subaru in Texas
One woman on Twitter posted a picture showing dozens of turtles loaded into her mother’s Subaru.
‘They rescued one turtle yesterday who is over 100 years old and approximately 350 pounds!!!’ @lara_hand tweeted.
Gina McLellan, a 71-year-old retired professor and longtime volunteer, told the Washington Post that it is a ‘huge community effort.’
‘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,’ she said.
Knight said the efforts of volunteers eventually will not matter unless they get more help from the power grid in order to help warm the turtles.
‘If we don’t get some relief from a power standpoint, we’re not going to be able to sustain this,’ she said.