SOUTH PADRE ISLAND - Rescue crews are making rounds along the Gulf coast searching for helpless green sea turtles stranded ashore.
Some of the reptiles are brought to Sea Turtle Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to saving turtles on South Padre Island.
Their latest count: 224 turtles since Tuesday with more than 500 along the rest of the Texas coast.
At Sea Turtle Inc., turtles are photographed, measured, and registered while they begin to recover from hypothermia.
The organization’s executive director, Jeff George, is working around the clock to save as many turtles as possible. Twelve have died so far, he said.
“[Turtles] get so weak that their body simply shuts down,” George explained. “They can’t lift their head up to breathe and they literally drown.”
George says that arctic blasts are reaching deep South Texas more often. This week’s blast is the second time this winter it’s happened, placing a strain both on tropical animals and rescuers.
The cold isn’t stopping Sea Turtle Inc. though as staff and volunteers are constantly working to save the animals they’re most passionate about.
“There’s something about these animals that are majestic, and when you realize that they are millions of years old and that they almost disappeared,” George said. “We see day-in and day-out how important they are in our eco systems. Many of us develop passion for them and their recovery.”
Temperatures are expected to rise this week, which means that the rescued turtles could be released back into the ocean by Friday.
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