Thousands of 'Cold-Stunned' Turtles Rescued from Freezing Texas Waters as State Battles Winter Storm
Unlike other sea animals, turtles are not able to survive in freezing temperatures and can experience "cold stun" and become unable to move.
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 last 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!!"
Amid the unprecedented winter storm, millions of homes and businesses in the southern state lost power for days. On Feb. 15, 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 last 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.
"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."
However, the nonprofit 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."
But good news arrived Sunday: The organization was able to release more than 2,200 of the turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico. They even got to go down this cute little slide!
"We still have lots of work to do but we are rejuvenated with passion and having seen our first released turtles swim away," Sea Turtle Inc. wrote on Facebook.
This story originally appeared on people.com