This week, Sea Turtle, Inc., a nonprofit in South Padre Island, rescued more than 2,500 at-risk turtles from nearby waters. It’s collecting hundreds by the day.
The facility, which already housed turtles in its hospital, rehabilitation and education centers has been overwhelmed by the amount of rescues performed since temperatures dropped.
CNN has reached out to the organization, which is still suffering from power outages, and is awaiting a reply.
Turtles can’t survive in cold water
The rescue effort began immediately for Knight and her team at Sea Turtle, Inc., who knew that turtles — unlike other sea animals — are unable to survive in cold temperatures.
While animals like dolphins or manatees are able to regulate their body temperatures internally, sea turtles’ body temperatures vary with surrounding water.
According to the National Park Service, cold-stunned turtles are not able to move well. They become lethargic and often float to the surface or wash up onshore.
This can lead to death from shock or predation, or from boat strikes.
According to the organization’s Facebook page, the Texas storm is the biggest sea turtle cold-stunning event to happen in south Texas.
With a new generator, turtles have hope, for now
Because of the generator, turtles already housed at the facilities, along with newcomers, have been able to warm up.
But the prolonged power outage has blown out all 10 of the facility’s heaters and coolers, and each costs thousands of dollars to replace.
Despite this, the team at Sea Turtle, Inc. remains hopeful.
“For today, the sun is bright. SpaceX has provided us with a generator,” Knight said. “And we are moving forward.”
Animal casualties are on the rise in Texas
The sanctuary, strapped for warming devices, evacuated animals to other facilities while trying to keep the rest as warm as possible with donated supplies.
As Sea Turtle, Inc. is pushed to capacity, the organization has begun using the South Padre Island Convention Center and Visitors Bureau for more space.
Those who have found sea turtles are encouraged to call the organization’s emergency sea turtle line at 956-243-4361.