SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas ( ValleyCentral) — For decades Sea Turtle Inc. has been dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating stranded sea turtles on South Padre Island. But the organization is still aiming to grow its operations.
Since its opening back in 1977, Sea Turtle Inc. has always had a passion for saving sea turtles and conserving the environment. However, Executive Director Wendy Knight said it’s not just her employees that help with this effort.
“It is very difficult not to feel moved to not take action once you have been inside the facility here at Sea Turtle Inc,” Knight said. ” “We also get a number of our patients from visitors that are here on the island and from residents that are on the beach, see a sea turtle in trouble and call us and we dispatch our employees out to rescue them.”
So far this year more than 400 emergency calls have been answered, and 43 sea turtles have been rehabilitated and released.
Chris Gorman oversees the seven turtles that are currently being treated. Gorman said there are many reasons why sea turtles end up in trouble.
“We’ll sometimes see predator attacks, sometimes turtles will come in with different diseases,” Gorman said. “And unfortunately sometimes we see a lot of human interaction where we’ll see turtles entangled in fishing lines or they’ll be hooked.”
With a quarter of a million people visiting Sea Turtle Inc. every year, people can sure learn a lot.
“They are extremely important to the environment and the ecosystem,” Gorman said “The best way for people learn about sea turtles is to come and potentially see them getting rehabbed.”
People who visit Sea Turtle Inc. believe education plays a key role in the rescue effort. The more people know how to protect sea turtles out in the wild, the fewer sea turtles that will come into harm’s way.
“Maybe if they learn about it and respect the turtle’s habitat we won’t endanger them so badly,” said Visitor Sue Ann Miche.
Winter Texans like Miche are frequent visitors of Sea Turtle Inc. and hope more people will get involved in saving sea turtles.
“It needs to be bigger and you know we need more community involvement and more winter Texans, we’re here we might as well do something to help this community,” Miche said.
However as the organization hopes to expand in the future, in the meantime they just want their turtles to get back on their flippers and be free.
“There’s no better feeling than when you see them get back into the wild and that they’ve completes the healing process,” Gorman said. “Hopefully they go on to live potentially 100 years out in the wild.”
Sea Turtle Inc. runs completely off of donations from the community. For more information on how to donate or how to become more involved head to their website.