SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (AP) – Residents, some of whom lack heat or basic amenities in their own homes Due to the unusually cold weather, they have been rescuing cold-stunned sea turtles and taking them to a convention center in a South Texas resort town.
“Every 15 minutes or less there is another truck or SUV that stops,” Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
He said that sometimes people bring one or two sea turtles, sometimes more. “Yesterday there were full trailers that had 80, 100, 50,” he said.
The South Padre Island Convention Center began launching on Monday when its neighbor, Sea Turtle Inc., could no longer handle the number of sea turtles left behind, and its largely open-air operation had lost power. He said the convention center itself had no electricity or water until early Wednesday morning.
He says they have “collected” more than 3,500 sea turtles so far. He said he hesitates to use the word rescued because “we know we are going to lose some.”
Caum said with another cold front closing in, they do not know when they will be able to return the sea turtles to the water.
Temperatures in the area Wednesday afternoon were in the 40s. He said it may be Saturday, when temperatures are expected to reach 60 degrees (above 15 degrees Celsius), before the turtles can be released back into the Gulf.
He said that with the recovered energy, they have been able to bring the temperature of the convention center to 60 degrees.
“We are trying to do the best we can to save as many turtles as possible,” he said.