Volunteers in Texas have rescued some 4,700 sea turtles off the state’s southern coast, where a winter storm left the reptiles stunned by the cold and on the verge of death.
Thousands of large turtles are now being housed at a convention centre on South Padre Island, as locals are trying to save the cold-blooded creatures by bringing their body temperatures back from the brink.
Read more: Texas mayor quits after saying ‘only the strong will survive’ snowstorm
“It’s an unprecedented event,” Wendy Knight, head of Sea Turtle Inc. conservation centre, told Reuters. Knight says about 100 to 500 sea turtles will typically wash up on Texas beaches due to the cold each year, but this month’s storm has taken a much greater toll on the local population.
The state was hammered this week by a days-long storm that has overtaxed its power grid, leaving millions of Texans without heat, light or electricity.
Read more: No, renewable energy is not primarily to blame for Texas power failures
The South Padre Island Convention Center and Visitors Bureau still has heat, and thus has become a defacto warming centre for the turtles. The reptiles are being kept in kiddy pools, enclosures and anywhere else that volunteers can find space.
And the turtles just keep coming in, with more than 1,000 added to the count since Wednesday.
“Every 15 minutes or less there’s another truck or SUV that pulls up,” Ed Caum, executive director of the centre, told the Associated Press.
Sea Turtle Inc/Facebook
Caum added that he does not expect to save them all.
Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell claims guard abused her in federal jail
‘A gilded cage’: Biden describes life at the White House 4 weeks into presidency
“We’re trying to do the best we can to save as many turtles as possible,” he said.
Cold temperatures present a major danger for the cold-blooded turtles, according to Knight. They become more lethargic as the temperature drops, and they begin to show symptoms of hypothermia as they get closer to zero.
“You could put a cold-stunned turtle in a half an inch of water and they’d drown,” she told the