For the past week, Texas has been struck with a widespread Arctic blast storm produced by a Polar vortex that caused brutal cold temperatures across the state. In the southernmost tip of Texas in South Padre Island, cold-stunned sea turtles were rescued by volunteers from the freezing weather conditions. The five local turtle species face risk of extinction so it is crucial to rescue them, according to wildlife experts. Thousands of turtles where transferred to enclosed facilities to protect them from the harsh temperatures. Sea turtles are cold-blooded creatures that cannot regulate their body temperature when it gets too cold. Executive Director Wendy Knight of Sea Turtle Inc., a nonprofit organization in South Padre Island, Texas, told NPR news they rescued nearly 4,500 turtles since Sunday, February 13. The sea turtles where rescued by foot and boat by local volunteers. The winter storm caused power outages that inhibited Sea Turtles Inc. to continue keeping thousands of turtles warm.
SpaceX's South Texas Starship Launch Facility is located at Boca Chica Beach, nearby South Padre Island. The aerospace company delivered a power generator to help maintain the reptiles alive. “SpaceX Boca team is helping save the turtles,” the founder of SpaceX Elon Musk said. “SpaceX in south Texas & Tesla in central have been providing direct assistance where feasible (eg save cold turtles & help power the water treatment plant). Please let us know if we may be helpful in other ways,” he wrote via Twitter on Thursday. "The love and support of people who just want to help things that can't help themselves is overwhelming," Knight told NPR reporters. She says the South Padre Island Convention Center, is also hosting approximately 4,000 sea turtles. "Like a ray from heaven, yesterday at 7:30 p.m. the site director and operations manager for SpaceX Boca Chica and two electricians and engineers from SpaceX showed up on our property with the largest generator I've ever seen. And at 1:30 a.m. this morning, we turned the lights and the power on,” Knight said on February 17. She shared that around 850 sea turtles were rescued by SpaceX employees initially storing them at their facility then coordinated transportation with Sea Turtle Inc.
SpaceX in south Texas & Tesla in central have been providing direct assistance where feasible (eg save cold turtles & help power the water treatment plant). Please let us know if we may be helpful in other ways.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 18, 2021
SpaceX Boca team is helping save the turtles— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 16, 2021
They ran out of space at the rescue center, so the local convention center opened its doors to turtle storage. This video was from yesterday afternoon. By the time my mom sent it to me, there were so many more that she said, “there is no empty floor space tonight.” pic.twitter.com/g6Gw7dfIOQ— Lara (@lara_hand) February 16, 2021
Featured Image Source: Sanjuana C. Zavala/Sea Turtle, Inc.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.