Thousands of sea turtles in coastal Texas have been rescued by volunteers who plucked them out of cold waters to safety.
“The love and support of people who just want to help things that can’t help themselves is overwhelming,” Sea Turtle Inc. Executive Director Wendy Knight told NPR.
The severe winter storm system that hit the region this week caused water temperatures to drop. This put sea turtles in danger, as extremely low water temperatures can trigger a cold stun, meaning the turtle can’t move or keep its head above water. To keep turtles from drowning, they must be removed quickly from the water.
Since Saturday, volunteers on foot and by boat have been looking for stranded turtles, and Sea Turtle Inc, a conservation group on South Padre Island, has taken in almost 5,000 of the creatures. Knight said this has been the biggest sea turtle cold-stunning event in recorded history, with so many needing help that they filled Sea Turtle Inc’s facility as well as South Padre’s convention center.
When it gets warmer, “we’ll start seeing them move their flippers, start seeing them raise their head,” Knight said, and then they will be released back into the Gulf of Mexico.