- Texas, USA -
Thousands of endangered sea turtles were rescued thanks to dozens of volunteers who have braved the freezing temperatures to rescue them from a winter storm.
TexasMonthly reports that on Sunday, February 14, Henry Rodriguez, owner of Henry’s Charters on South Padre Island, headed to the channels between the Laguna Madre and Isla Blanca Park and began scooping up cold-stunned sea turtles.
Despite the cold and the strong winds, he and two other volunteers pulled more than one hundred turtles.
Over the following days, three hundred more reptiles were rescued from shallow water until a collaboration with Sea Turtle Inc., a nonprofit organization, made possible the rescue of more than 4,000 of these beautiful sea creatures.
Staff and volunteers came together and coordinated the operation.
While Mr. Rodriguez and other boat drivers were taking the turtles out of the water, volunteers on land were rescuing those who had washed ashore.
There were so many of them that Sea Turtle ran out of space to hold the turtles and South Padre Island Convention Center stepped in and offered shelter.
As if things were not complicated enough, the convention center and Sea Turtle lost power during the rescue.
Water temperature in the tanks dropped, and staff had to pull the turtles out and put them into “dry dock.” “
Turtles had to be placed on floors and bins causing them inevitable stress.
For instance, at the convention center, thousands of stunned turtles were corralled inside makeshift tarp-lined pens and kiddie pools arranged in the lobby and hallways.
Wendy Knight, executive director of Sea Turtle, described the scene as “a war zone.”
As reported by TexasMonthly, on Wednesday, February 17, a crew from nearby SpaceX came to drop off a generator and several technicians to get Sea Turtle up and running again but that did not speed things up.
In fact, more than 24 hours are needed before water heats up enough to return resident turtles to their tanks.
And, the situation was further complicated by the prolonged power outage which ruined ten heaters used to regulate water temperature.
Ms. Knight said: “It’s good when they wake up, but they’re going to need to poop and pee and move their flippers and lift their heads. It’s going to be a literal shit show.”
Ms. Knight also said that it’s too soon to say how many will survive.
Sadly, some of them had preexisting conditions that make them more vulnerable to the cold; others arrived with boat strike or other injuries and will have to be hospitalized.
She then added: “I shudder to think how many did not make it to us.”
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