Cold-stunned sea turtles, frozen alligators fight for their lives after unprecedented cold snap

Massive sea turtle rescue was underway in Texas after extreme weather in the state has led the sea creatures to become stunned by the cold.

AccuWeather Global Weather Center – February 23, 2021 – Residents of Texas are still feeling the effects of an intense winter storm that moved through the United States last week, which, The Associated Press reported, was responsible for at least 69 fatalities across the country -- and wildlife is suffering from the extreme cold as well, causing a turtle rescue to get underway in the state.

A massive sea turtle rescue was underway in Texas after extreme weather in the state has led the sea creatures to become stunned by the cold.

Sea turtles are ectothermic, or cold-blooded creatures, meaning they cannot regulate their own body heat. If the water they inhabit drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit like it did during the extreme cold in Texas this week, the turtles develop hypothermia and become lethargic and unable to swim, according to the U.S. National Park Service.

When the turtles enter the cold-stunned state, they float to the top of the water, which puts them in jeopardy of being struck by boats or the potential of washing ashore and becoming stranded on land. It also puts them at heightened risk for being preyed upon by natural predators.

After many sea turtles went into a cold-stunned state due to dropping water temperatures, Texas Game Wardens stepped in to rescue over one hundred of the sea creatures. (Twitter/@TexasGameWarden)

Texas Game Wardens in Cameron County rescued 141 sea turtles that fell victim to the cold weather in the Brownsville Ship Channel and surrounding bays.

Wendy Knight, the executive director of Sea Turtle, Inc. in South Padre Island, Texas, posted a video on Facebook on Monday calling attention to the struggles the organization faced amid the winter storm.

"We are undergoing one of the largest cold-stun events the island has seen in more than a decade," Knight said. "Between yesterday and today, we've taken well over 500 cold-stunned turtles."

At 2 p.m. on Monday, the organization lost power, which has left their five, 25-55,000 gallon tanks holding the stunned turtles without heat -- putting the lives of the turtles at risk.

"All of these efforts will be in vain if we do not soon get power restored to our facility," Knight said.

On Wednesday, SpaceX arrived at the facility with giant generators that were strong enough to support the organization's electrical needs that allowed the turtles in Sea Turtle, Inc's care to warm back up. The following day, Knight posted another update and called the event "the largest cold-stun event in recorded history."

On Friday, the organization tweeted that the organization rescued over 4,900 turtles.