July 11, 2010
Info, photos and links concerning sea turtles. Italics are direct quotes from source.
There are five sea turtle species in the Gulf of Mexico: loggerheads. Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, hawksbill, green sea turtles. Loggerheads are considered threatened – the other 4 were endangered before the explosion. Follow links for species info/photos.
Rescued sea turtles are taken to Audubon Nature Institute’s Aquatic Center in New Orleans for treatment.
(Dr Blair Witherington/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
Q & A with the Audubon Nature Institute Stranding Coordinator Grace Baldwin
South Pass, LA
(Carol Guzy/Washington Post)
Several aspects of sea turtle behavior put them at risk including the importance to turtles of surface convergence areas, typically highly productive areas where ocean currents converge and where oil has been found. These areas provide feeding and sheltering habitat to sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Sea turtles are air breathers and all must come to the surface frequently to take a breath of air. In a large oil spill, these animals may be exposed to volatile chemicals during inhalation.
Grand Terre Island, LA
NOAA: Additionally, sea turtles may experience oiling impacts on nesting beaches when they come ashore to lay their eggs, and their eggs may be exposed during incubation potentially resulting in increased egg mortality and/or possibly developmental defects in hatchlings. Hatchlings emerging from their nests may encounter oil on the beach and in the water as they begin their lives at sea.
Barataria Bay, LA
Internal Effects: Inhalation of volatile organics from oil or dispersants may result in respiratory irritation, tissue injury, and pneumonia. Ingestion of oil or dispersants may result in gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcers, bleeding, diarrhea, and maldigestion. Absorption of inhaled and ingested chemicals may damage organs such as the liver or kidney, result in anemia and immune suppression, or lead to reproductive failure or death.
Barataria Bay, LA
One that didn’t make it…neither did the source of the photo.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle receiving treatment at Audubon Nature Institute’s Aquatic Center.
June 13 – Venice, LA skipper Mike Ellis speaks with Catherine Craig re: Ridleys being found within 4-8 miles of the explosion site and how they are being burned alive. Without a carcass – BP cannot be fined or found civilly or criminally responsible for their deaths. According to the Endangered Species Act, fines can run as high as 25-50K per turtle. But no amount of money can bring back the species back to life.
Video © Catherine Craig
July 1 FedEx donating resources to transport hundreds of nests containing thousands of eggs to Florida’s Atlantic Coast and its logistics experts are working the Unified Command and its partner organizations to implement this complex translocation. The relocation efforts are scheduled to begin in mid-July and continue throughout the hatching season.
July 2 – Development of sea turtle “observer program”
July 9 – First transport – a loggerhead nest of roughly 100 eggs was excavated from a site near St Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve (FL) and taken to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Canaveral National Seashore on Florida’s east coast adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center for final incubation and hatchling release.
Roughly 700 nests are laid annually across Florida’s panhandle and as many as 80 are typically laid on Alabama’s beaches with as many as 50,000 hatchlings. Normal mortality for sea turtle hatchlings each year ranges between 20 percent and 50 percent. Loggerheads produced along the northern Gulf Coast are part of the same distinct population as those produced on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. The loggerhead nesting season in the northern Gulf of Mexico begins in late May and runs through late August. After approximately two months of incubation, hatchlings emerge from their nests and make their way offshore to developmental habitats. Hatching season extends into October.
July 10 – From April 30 to July 10
643 turtles found within “designated spill area”
450 dead, 56 stranded alive (4 subsequently died)
Healthy sea turtle swimming free
What you can do to help:
• Avoid any nesting sites, which are often cordoned off and signed as sensitive areas. If you come across a nest, observe from a distance. Leave the animal and its nest undisturbed and nest markers in place. Turtle tracks in the sand allow researchers to note where nests are located and to monitor their safety, so please leave these tracks untouched.
• Minimize the use of bright lights or flashlights on beaches at night, as this may disturb turtles and disrupt nesting activity.
• Do not start fires on any beach.
• Help remove beach litter because turtles may mistake it for food.
If you observe an oiled turtle that comes to beach and cannot return to water under her own power, contact the Wildlife Reporting Hotline immediately at 866-557-1401. A dispatcher is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to promptly dispatch a wildlife response team.