A winter storm has barrelled through Texas, blanketing the state with snow and ice. Temperatures have dropped to below freezing (-18 degrees Celsius) and due to a surge in demand by Texans who were trying to keep warm, the state’s energy grid had been overwhelmed, causing a widespread power blackout.
Despite this weather crisis, volunteers still came out in throngs to help save the sea turtles on their shores.
The coldblooded creatures are unable to regulate their own body temperatures resulting in ‘cold stuns’. This occurs when water temperatures drop to below 10 degrees Celsius. As if in a state of paralysis, the turtles are awake but unable to move, often times resulting in their deaths either by injury, stranding or drowning.
These cold stuns occur annually and volunteers rally each year to rescue them. But with the power outage this time around, the rescue efforts seemed almost impossible.
This, however, did not stop the non-profit education, rehabilitation and conservation organisation, Sea Turtle Inc, from rescuing nearly 4,500 sea turtles since Sunday. With the support of the community, their volunteers and the local government, this non-profit organisation has been working around the clock to ensure these turtles survive the ghastly weather.
Executive Director Wendy Knight told NPR that their volunteers have gone by boats (from fishing vessels to dinner cruise boats), and on foot in efforts to rescue as many turtles as possible. They have been housed at Sea Turtle Inc’s facility and the South Padre Island Convention Centre.
The outlook gets brighter…
In what Knight described as “a ray from heaven”, representatives from SpaceX showed up at Sea Turtle Inc.’s property with a large commercial generator to restore power at the facility. SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site is visible from the facility across the skyline.
In addition to restoring power, SpaceX’s employees have also rescued some 850 sea turtles themselves.
Communities living in the coastal regions have even provided their own personal generators while the local council has built platforms for the sea turtles to be kept on.
The tide continues to push these turtles to shore, where volunteers get hold of them and transport them to the facilities. The sea turtles that have been rescued are mostly large – one of them is 150 years old and weighs 400 pounds.
The five species of sea turtles on the shores of Texas are threatened, and endangered. Without these community members and volunteers braving the cold, most of them would not survive the icy temperatures brought about by this historic winter storm.
Although nature may, on occasion, throw a curve ball (such as this storm), the sacrifices and efforts of a community could truly turn any disaster around.
These Texans understood that the endangered creatures could not be left to fend for themselves in such extreme weather conditions, and have worked tirelessly through this storm to ensure the sea turtles survive.
Really does give you a renewed perspective on life, doesn’t it?