McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A recent sudden dip in temperatures in South Texas forced the rescue of dozens of cold-stunned sea turtles from the Gulf of Mexico, where volunteers at the Sea Turtle Inc., are trying to revive and restore their health.
Seventy-nine sea turtles have been rescued since Friday and remained at Sea Turtle Inc., on Monday in South Padre Island near the border of Mexico, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit, Sanjuana Zavala, told Border Report.
Cold-stun events occur when the water gets too cold for sea turtles to maintain their body temperature. As a result, the turtles are awake but unable to move or swim. If not rescued, while they are awake and alive, the turtles will drown from being unable to lift their head to breathe, center officials told Border Report.
The sea turtles appear to be recovering well on Monday afternoon, and Zavala said the center expects to release them back to the sea at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The public is invited to attend the release that will be held at Cameron County Beach Access No. 4, located on the northern tip of South Padre Island.
Volunteers had feared the recent cold front that moved through South Texas late last week would affect the thousands of endangered sea turtles that live in this region and trigger a repeat of last year when about 5,000 sea turtles were cold-stunned and had to be rescued during a week-long freeze.
And while it was not as hectic, it was “busy,” Sea Turtle Inc., CEO Wendy Knight said.
Dozens of volunteers, as well as state and federal officials, combed beaches and went out in boats in the Laguna Madre Bay, as well as the Gulf Coast, searching for sea turtle strandings.
“This continues to be a community effort with TPWD (Texas Public Wildlife Division), U.S. Coast Guard, Coastal Fisheries, SpaceX and local boat owners patrolling the Laguna Madre Bay for rescue efforts,” Knight said.
Knight credited volunteers and staff for the rescue efforts, including that of local boating Capt. Patrick Murphey, who loaned his charter fishing boat, The Thunderbird, to patrol the waters on Saturday.
A Facebook video posted by Sea Turtle Inc., shows volunteers measuring, and evaluating several bins full of rescued sea turtles of varying sizes. Using sterilized gloves, they weighed each turtle and put a number on its shell and checked its extremities and health.
Zavala said the turtles would all be given swimming tests to see how well they fared prior to being released.
The public is invited to watch the sea turtles released on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, at 4:30 p.m. at South Padre Island at Cameron County Beach Access No. 4. (Graphic on sea turtle release by Sea Turtle Inc.) Sea Turtle Inc., is a nonprofit that relies on donations and volunteers and is located on South Padre Island, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)
Sea Turtle Inc., officials warn the public not to try to handle the delicate reptiles, which are federally protected as endangered species. Anyone who comes across a stranded sea turtle should call their emergency helpline at (956) 243-4361.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.