Unlike other sea animals, turtles are not able to survive in freezing temperatures and can experience "cold stun" and become unable to move

By Claudia Harmata
February 18, 2021 10:52 AM
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Credit: Sea Turtle, Inc

A team of volunteers has been working to rescue thousands of "cold-stunned" turtles from the unprecedented Winter Storm Uri wreaking havoc in Texas.

Over the last week, more than 4,000 turtles have been found and rehabilitated from freezing waters by Sea Turtle, Inc., a conservation group in South Padre Island, CBS News reported.

Unlike other sea animals, turtles are not able to survive in freezing temperatures. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, turtles can experience "cold stun" in extremely low temperatures and become unable to move. This puts them at risk of death from shock, starvation or predation.

"Thank you to everyone who has been delivering sea turtles to us today!" Sea Turtle Inc. said in a statement on Facebook earlier this week. "This is the biggest sea turtle cold-stunned event in south texas and we are overly grateful for the support. All your donations are helping us pull through... A great effort by everyone. A million thanks and a lot more turtle hugs!!"

Credit: Sea Turtle, Inc

Amid the unprecedented winter storm, millions of homes and businesses in the southern state have had no power for days. On Monday, Wendy Knight, the executive director at Sea Turtle, Inc., warned that their efforts would be "in vain" if they didn't restore power to their facility soon.

Thankfully, Knight confirmed to CBS on Wednesday morning that SpaceX provided the organization with a generator. They were able to restore power in their main facility and warm up the water for the turtles.

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"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 said. "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." 

Credit: Sea Turtle, Inc

However, the non-profit said they are receiving hundreds of turtles each day from volunteers and that they have now reached capacity, forcing them to send rescued turtles to South Padre Island's convention center, which remains without heat and water.

"We have been working off of generators to charge our phones and spotlights at night," a spokesperson for the center told CBS. "The convention center has been keeping the sea turtles from the cold elements and has been allowing them to come out of this cold-stunned shock."

Sea turtles aren't the only wildlife suffering through the severe cold front. CNN reported that several animals froze to death at a primate sanctuary in San Antonio.

"I never, ever thought my office would turn into a morgue, but it has," Brooke Chavez, executive director of Primarily Primates, told the San Antonio Express-News on Tuesday.

Many Texas residents are also bringing farm animals into their homes to keep them from dying in the cold, according to CBS.

Texas is a state that does not often experience large amounts of snowfall or freezing temperatures. The historic storm has left over 2 million families in the dark for days as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas works to restore power. Here's how you can help.