Dedicated volunteers rescue over 4,500 endangered sea turtles from frigid Texas waters

As record cold temperatures continue to impact Texas, causing power outages and water shortages across the state, a group of dedicated volunteers have taken it upon themselves to rescue thousands of endangered sea turtles from the waters of South Padre Island. The resort town in southern Texas rarely gets too cold long enough to threaten sea turtles, who need warm waters to survive. But with temps dipping down to freezing and still hovering in the 40s, something had to be done to keep the creatures warm.

So far, according to NPR, nearly 4,500 sea turtles have been brought indoors since Sunday by volunteers at organizations like Sea Turtle, Inc., a sea turtle rescue operation, and the South Padre Convention Center, where the overflow of turtles are being kept. Sea Turtle, Inc. lost power, but thanks to a commercial generator brought in by SpaceX, have been able to keep their facility warm enough for the rescued turtle patients who already resided there and the influx of new rescues before they got too full to take more.

Volunteers have been working hard to save as many sea turtles as possible, even though many of these people are struggling with losing electricity, heat, and water themselves. Using their own cars and trailers, they have been transporting the turtles to safety a dozen or two at a time.

Lara (@lara_hand) on Twitter shared a thread about how her retired mother spends winters volunteering Sea Turtle, Inc. and how they're rescuing turtles during the cold snap. Her photo of the back of her Subaru filled with sea turtles drives home the dedication of the volunteers who are working to save these creatures.


Lara said her mom's team rescued more than 1,000 turtles on the 15th, one of which was over 100 years old and around 350 pounds.

Here's a video her mom shared from the convention center, showing how many turtles were being stored there already.

And more photos of the incredible rescue operation.

Sea Turtle, Inc. told the Washington Post that during a normal winter, volunteers might rescue from a few dozen to a few hundred cold-stunned turtles, so this week's effort is truly extraordinary. When a turtle gets too cold, its heart rate lowers and its body becomes paralyzed. The hypothermic shock causes them to float above the water, where they are at risk of being struck by boats, attacked by predators, or even drowning.

However, the 3,500 turtles are not out of the woods yet. The "dry dock" conditions in the convention center are not ideal, and the issue of maintaining power is vital to keep temperatures warm enough for the turtles.

Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the AP that he hesitates to call the effort a rescue because "we know we're going to lose some." Temperatures may not rise enough for the turtles to be returned to the water until the weekend.

"We're trying to do the best we can to save as many turtles as possible," he said.

The polar vortex that has swept through Texas and the southern U.S. has already claimed at nearly two dozen human lives in addition to an unknown number of animals. One animal sanctuary in North Bexar County, Texas has sadly lost more than a dozen animals including at least one chimpanzee as well as monkeys, lemurs, and tropical birds.

The combination of severe weather and an insufficient power grid cut off from the rest of the country has created a perfect storm of suffering in Texas this week. Seeing people helping people and animals weather that storm is heartening. Let's just hope they won't have to keep it up for much longer.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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