As Texas’ deep freeze wreaks havoc on land, sea animals also suffer in its icy waters.
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.
Volunteers are scouring bays and beaches for stranded turtles suffering from “cold-stun,” a condition which inhibits turtles’ mobility.
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.
“We have been so pleased with the community acceptance,” Wendy Knight, the executive director at Sea Turtle, Inc., said in a Facebook video. “But all of these efforts will be in vain if we do not soon get power restored to our facility.”
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.
At very low temperatures, turtles can become cold-stunned.
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
On Wednesday, SpaceX provided Sea Turtle, Inc. with a generator large enough to cover the organization’s rehabilitation, education and conservation facilities, Knight said in a Facebook video.
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
Turtles are not the only animals at risk in the Texas winter storm.
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.
They are asking for donations on their Facebook page, where they continues to issue updates.
Those who have found sea turtles are encouraged to call the organization’s emergency sea turtle line at 956-243-4361.