18 February 2021

Thousands of sea turtles rescued as cold weather ravages Texas

18 February 2021

Residents in the US, some of whom lack heat or basic amenities in their own homes due to the unusually low temperatures, have been rescuing cold-stunned sea turtles and taking them to a convention centre in a south Texas resort town.

“Every 15 minutes or less, there’s another truck or SUV that pulls up,” Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Associated Press.

He said sometimes people bring one or two sea turtles, sometimes more.

“We had trailers full yesterday coming in that had 80, 100, 50,” he said.

A volunteer gently transports cold stunned sea turtles into the recovery area at the South Padre Island Convention Centre on South Padre Island (AP)

The South Padre Island Convention Centre started pitching in on Monday when its neighbour, Sea Turtle Inc, could no longer handle the number of sea turtles being dropped off, and their mostly outdoor operation had lost power.

Mr Caum said the convention centre itself did not have power or water until early on Wednesday morning.

He said they have “collected” more than 3,500 sea turtles so far.

Mr Caum said he hesitates to use the word rescued because “we know we’re going to lose some”.

He said that with another cold front approaching, they do not know when they will be able to return the sea turtles to the water.

We’re trying to do the best we can to save as many turtles as possible

Temperatures in the area on Wednesday afternoon were in the 40s.

Mr Caum said it may be Saturday – when temperatures are expected to reach the low 60s (above 15C) – before the turtles can be released back into the Gulf.

He said with power returned they have been able to bring the convention centre’s temperature to 60 degrees.

“We’re trying to do the best we can to save as many turtles as possible,” Mr Caum said.

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