SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (AP) — The San Francisco Zoo is attempting to raise $50,000 through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums for a rescue effort of thousands of sea turtles taking place in Texas.
“The images of the hundreds of cold-stunned sea turtles lying motionless was such an unreal sight, and we felt we needed to do something to support the incredible efforts being made by the Sea Turtle, Inc. organization and others,” said Tanya M. Peterson, CEO and Executive Director of San Francisco Zoological Society.
Texas residents, some of whom lack heat or basic amenities in their own homes due to the unusually chilly weather, have been rescuing cold-stunned sea turtles and taking them to a convention center in South Padre Island.
To support the sea turtle rescue effort click here. Donate to the ‘Employee Relief Fund’ option to help this project.
“Every 15 minutes or less there’s another truck or SUV that pulls up,” Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Caum said sometimes people bring one or two sea turtles, sometimes more. “We had trailers full yesterday coming in that had 80, 100, 50.”
The South Padre Island Convention Center started pitching in Monday when its neighbor, Sea Turtle Inc., could no longer handle the number of sea turtles being dropped off, and their mostly outdoor operation had lost power. Caum said the convention center itself didn’t have power or water till early Wednesday morning.
More than 3,500 sea turtles have been collected so far. Caum hesitates to use the word rescued because “we know we’re going to lose some.”
With another cold front approaching, they don’t know when they’ll be able to return the sea turtles to the water.
Since sea turtles are cold-blooded and not able to regulate their body temperature, a weather event like this causes them to lose their ability to move, though they are awake. The result can be fatal as they can drown. The hope is that their body temperatures normalize for their eventual return to the wild.
Temperatures in the area on Wednesday afternoon were in the 40s. It may be Saturday — when temperatures are expected to reach the low 60s (above 15 Celsius) — before the turtles can be released back into the Gulf.
With power restored, the organization has been able to bring the convention center’s temperature to 60 degrees.
“We’re trying to do the best we can to save as many turtles as possible,” Caum said.