Hundreds of cold-stunned sea turtles have been brought back from the brink. More than 500 have been saved so far, but seasoned rescuers are bracing themselves for more. They expect this week’s record-breaking freeze to leave another 500 turtles in need of rescue.
Lyndsey Howell, who has been working with sea turtles for 12 years, has seen cold-stunned turtles before. If they get too cold, they simply can’t swim, and end up floating helplessly on the surface. With a little luck, they might drift into warmer waters, but they’re just as likely to get ‘hit by boats or eaten alive.’ And the longer they float the more dehydrated they become. Cold spells, according to the National Park Service, are getting longer, and after the severe weather that has rocked the US this week, coastal animal rescuers like Howell couldn’t bear to leave these desperate turtles to fend for themselves.
Setting out in research vessels, specially-trained rescuers from the NOAA science station in Galveston knew where to find the sea turtles and saved as many as they could find. They ferried the creatures – too frozen to move – back to rehabilitation centres where they could relax in much-needed warmth to thaw out their limbs. Now that their arms and legs are working again, the turtles will be released as soon as the waters warm up.
‘Majestic’ is the word Howell uses to describe the sea turtles she saves. But according to Ben Higgins, manager of the Sea Turtle Program, human activity has pushed sea turtles to the brink of extinction. Global warming, overfishing and microplastic pollution are a triple threat that has driven many species of turtle to the edge of extinction.
In recent years, the sea turtle comeback has been one of the rare good news stories for endangered animals in the wild. But the fight isn’t over yet. With their population numbers unnaturally small and fragmented, these resilient creatures can’t always recover from “natural” events without our help.
This heartwarming story highlights the importance of wildlife rescue workers. Thanks to their swift and heroic efforts, the lives of these endangered sea turtles were saved! The plight of these lucky sea turtles serves as a reminder of the impacts of climate change and the need for humans to take responsibility in the fight against it.