By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
As I sit here writing this the temperatures are hovering near freezing. The wind has been howling all day with a sharp and frigid bite that rapidly saps the warmth from ungloved hands.
It’s the third big cold front to have moved through the area over the last two months. It’s the third bitter winter system to descend upon us with freeze warnings and pleas to conserve power lest we, en masse, overload the electrical grids fueling the toasty heat being pumped into our homes and offices.
But, while the cold can be (and has been, for many people) an inconvenience, we humans are capable of adapting to the situation and coming out alright on the other side. For various animal species that share this temporarily frozen piece of paradise with us, however, the cold can spell more immediate and lethal danger.
Over these last several cold fronts, we have seen firsthand what low temperatures and high sustained winds can do to animals such as sea turtles, pelicans and even fish. Winter stuns them. It knocks them clear out of the sky. It paralyzes them as they cluster together for warmth. Winter can quite literally put these animals on the cusp of death.
Now, some might say, “So what? It’s nature and nature should just take its course.”
But, the thing is, these animals are a huge part of what makes this place the Eden that it is. And so, every time a new front has blown in there have been several groups of people who have mobilized to help these various animals out during their most vulnerable moments.
An army of volunteers and law enforcement personnel have deployed to area beaches, to the jetties, to the bay and channels to rescue cold-stunned sea turtles. State agencies have placed temporary bans on fishing to protect the local fisheries from being overfished when the creatures are too cold to put up a fair fight against a rod and reel. Still more volunteers and law enforcement have worked in tandem to slow traffic down and catch pelicans as the strong north wind pummels them right onto the asphalt of the busiest highway in the area.
For hours upon hours, folks from Sea Turtle Inc., Port Isabel and South Padre Island first responders, Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists and game wardens, Cameron County parks and police, the sheriff’s office, the Department of Public Safety, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and a whole host of citizen volunteers have devoted their time to save these creatures.
They’ve braved the wind and the rain and sleet. They’ve braved the choppy, frothy surf. They braved the 5 o’clock traffic of commuters anxious to make their way between Port Isabel and Brownsville. All to save animals which are incapable of advocating for themselves.
It’s still not over yet. The cold weather hasn’t gone away and there are surely dozens more animals which will continue to need help over the next few days. And they’ll continue to get that help thanks to these amazing and amazingly dedicated people.
It’s to them that I dedicate this week’s column. And it’s to them I offer my sincerest thanks and appreciation.
Want the whole story? Pick up a copy of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.