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Volunteers are rescuing thousands of cold stunned sea turtles in Texas

Cold stun renders sea turtles immobile and puts them at risk of death from shock, predation, and starvation.

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Thousands of Atlantic green sea turtles and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles suffering from cold stun are laid out to recover Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 at the South Padre Island Convention Center on South Padre Island, Texas

Thousands of Atlantic green sea turtles and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles suffering from cold stun are laid out to recover Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 at the South Padre Island Convention Center on South Padre Island, Texas

Associated Press

As the unprecedented Winter Storm Uri continues to wreak havoc across Texas, concerned citizens are pitching in to help save thousands of cold-stunned sea turtles.

What’s going on?

CBS News reports that Sea Turtle, Inc., a conservation group based in South Padre Island, Texas, is working around the clock with community members to help relocate afflicted turtles from the frigid south Texas shores to a safer, warmer environment.

For several days, Texans have been bringing cold-stunned turtles to Sea Turtle, Inc. by the carload, and the organization continues to receive hundreds of new turtles each day, People reports.

As Sea Turtles Inc.’s rescue facility is now at maximum capacity, with more than 500 rescued turtles on site, rescues are now being transported to a nearby convention center, the Associated Press reports.

According to National Geographic, more than 4,400 cold-stunned sea turtles are now resting on tarps in the convention center.

  • “We have at least one and a half football fields’ worth of turtles (in the building),” said Wendy Knight, the executive director of Sea Turtle, Inc., according to National Geographic.

Amid the unprecedented storm, Sea Turtle, Inc.’s rescue facility was stranded without power for several days, CNN reports. The outage prompted Knight to post a video on Facebook on Feb. 15 warning that all their rescue efforts would be “in vain” if the facility was unable to regain power soon.

Knight’s plea was answered as SpaceX provided the organization with what King referred to as “the single largest generator I’ve ever seen in my life,” on Wednesday morning, National Geographic reports.

Bigger picture:

The site reports that some of the smaller turtles are beginning to come out of their cold stunned state now that they’re in a warmer environment, but rescuers need to be extremely careful about when they decide to rerelease the creatures into the ocean.

“The biggest mistake we could make is to release before the water is warm enough,” Knight said, according to National Geographic.

According to the site, scientists are keeping close watch of the surrounding water temperature and waiting for it reach a safe 55 to 65 degree mark.