Texas residents have saved over 4,000 sea turtles from the unseasonably cold waters of the Gulf of Mexico, according to CBS News.
The cold-blooded turtles are suffering from what marine biologists call “cold-stuns,” which sometimes occur when the turtles spend too long in water below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Cold-stunned turtles cannot move well, placing them in danger of being swept out to sea by ocean currents.
Water temperatures off the coast of South Padre Island, Texas, were measured Feb. 17 at 46.9 degrees Fahrenheit, endangering the local sea turtle population. But volunteers with the conservation group Sea Turtle Inc., along with Texas Game Wardens, have stepped up to save as many turtles as possible, transporting the animals to temporary shelters.
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
Sea Turtle Inc. quickly reached capacity at its facility and is now using the South Padre Island Convention Center to house the turtles, executive director Wendy Knight told CBS News. Austin-based tech company SpaceX is lending Sea Turtle Inc. a generator so that it can revive the turtles with warm water, Knight added.
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
Of the five sea turtle species found in Texas, three are endangered and two are threatened, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. (RELATED: Sea Turtle Makes Wild Escape From Jaws Of Shark Thanks To The Help Of Two Men)
More than two million people remain without power in Texas, where a winter storm froze wind turbines and led residents to put too much pressure on the rest of the state’s power grid. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency Feb. 14, and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is demanding an investigation into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.