‘It’s a waiting game’: 4,800 cold-stunned sea turtles recovering on South Padre Island


SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (KVEO) – The sea turtle conservation nonprofit, Sea Turtle, Inc., is now in the care of an estimated 4,800 cold-stunned sea turtles. They are waiting for the right conditions to start releasing those that are out of their comatose state.  

Things were quiet Thursday at the South Padre Island Convention center where thousands of sea turtles are recovering after becoming cold stunned due to a prolonged drop in temperatures.  

The truckloads that were arriving here earlier this week have reduced to a just a trickle.  

Volunteers have blocked off the windows at the convention center to allow the sea turtles to rest and get evaluated by the veterinarians. 

“Some of them have hooks, some of them have some wounds, so they’re right now seeing who needs the most care and who just needs time to wait out the cold stunning,” said Sanjuana Zavala, marketing manager of Sea Turtle, Inc.  

For those that are out of their comatose state and in good condition, plans for their release are still being worked out.   

“It has to be ranging from 55 degrees to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and gradually going up. So, we’ve been watching the weather constantly, getting reports of the water temperature out on the beach to estimate so we can release them but it’s a waiting game at this point,” said Zavala.  

With no estimates as to how many remain stranded, people continue to go out and search for those still out there.  

Captain TJ Reyna and his friend DJ have recovered 300 sea turtles out in his boat since Tuesday.

While helping out at the convention center, they picked up two stranded in the mangroves right next to the convention center. 

“I didn’t know everybody was going to drop what they were doing and just go out and help, it’s been incredible,” said Reyna. “I just feel very humbled by the whole experience, and very grateful to be out here and help.” 

As for the Sea Turtle, Inc. facility, electricity was finally restored. During the entirety of the cold stunning event, the nonprofit had been operating without power.

“Monetary donations are what is needed right now because that would help us keep afloat with the extra load of turtle care and then the loss of revenue coming into our tourist facility,” said Zavala.  

To donate, visit seaturtleinc.org.  

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