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Effort to Save 70 000 Turtle Eggs to Begin


Submitted by admin on 2010-07-01

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Saving turtle eggs is what is on the agenda for US Fish and Wildlife Service next week as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill threatens thousands of turtles. The process will get under way in about a week, as the oil spill from BP continues to cause environmental damage.

Turtles breed once a year on a very select few beaches in the world, and the Gulf Coast is home to some of them. Both the Florida Panhandle and the Alabama coastal regions are used by turtles for laying eggs, and both these areas are under threat from the oil spill.

Scuba Diving Article - Loggerhead Turtle
Loggerhead Turtle
Photo by chadlathe

There are an estimated 800 nests, housing up to 70 000 eggs in the area, which shall be moved, should the attempts go smoothly. It is not uncommon practice to move nests of turtle eggs if needed, though there has never been such a large effort and quantity of nests needing re-location.

It is also a risky process, transporting the eggs safely and hoping that they succeed in hatching, but it has been stated that it is the only option. Currently experts expect that if the eggs are left to hatch in their current locations majority, or even all of the turtles will be poisoned by the oil and die. They explain that while it is a risky process, it is the only option should there be a chance in saving these turtles, in most cases the threatened loggerhead species.

The current plan of action involves dozens of workers fanning out on the Gulf coastline and marking these turtle nests. The process of extracting the eggs is a difficult one, as turtles lay them just beneath the sand. Workers will need to manually dig carefully and slowly into each of the nests, removing the eggs with as little damage as possible- no doubt a timely and tiring process. After the eggs have been removed from a nest, they will then be placed into styrofoam containers designed for the purpose of turtle egg removal, where-after they will be taken to a warehouse at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is here where they will remain throughout the hatching process, once they have hatched they will then be released into the Atlantic ocean on the east coast of Florida, where oil has not reached.

As if this oil problem was not enough of a challenge already for the loggerhead turtles, nest populations along the Gulf of Mexico have been declining for a number of years.

This is just another problem for the threatened species, in fact propositions have been made to have the loggerhead turtle moved up from a threatened species to an endangered species. The process of turtles maturing from hatchings is one that already involves significant difficulty, with majority of baby loggerhead turtles not reaching maturity.

For all those whom have not yet donated to the oil relief, I strongly urge you to find ways of getting involved and saving the oceans that we love so much and spend so much time in.

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