Thousands of cold-stunned turtles rescued by Texas residents amid winter storm

18 February 2021, 13:38 | Updated: 18 February 2021, 14:24

Freezing Turtles have been rescued amid winter storms in Texas
Freezing Turtles have been rescued amid winter storms in Texas. Picture: Sea Turtle Inc

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Thousands of cold-stunned sea turtles have been rescued by residents in Texas amid plummeting temperatures in the US state.

A winter storm has swept parts of the southern US in recent days, killing at least 21 people and leaving millions without electricity.

The mercury has plummeted as low as –18C (0F) in some of the coldest temperatures for 30 years.

Residents, some of whom have no heat or basic amenities in their own homes, have been taking freezing sea turtles to a convention centre in a south Texas resort town.

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

Posted by South Padre Island Tropical Travel on Wednesday, February 17, 2021

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

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

He said more than 3,500 turtles have been “collected” so far, adding that he hesitates to use the word rescued because "we know we're going to lose some".

The centre, which was without power and water until Wednesday morning, started pitching in when its neighbour, Sea Turtle Inc, could no longer handle the number of turtles being dropped off.

Well surpassed 2,500 turtles we are grateful for your support. We still do not have power. Resident turtles are out...

Posted by Sea Turtle, Inc on Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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

He said it may be Saturday - when temperatures are expected to reach above 15C - before the turtles can be released back into the Gulf.

Now has power again it has been able to bring the temperature to 15C (60F).

"We're trying to do the best we can to save as many turtles as possible," Mr Caum said.