Massive Sea Turtle Hatchling rescue planned - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Massive Sea Turtle Hatchling rescue planned

By Juan Carlos Fanjul - bio | email

JUPITER, FL (WFLX)-- Palm Beach Zoo's Larry Wood points at a sea turtle nesting area at Jupiter's Carlin Park.

"The turtles chose where they are going to plop their eggs," he said.

Under 2 feet of sand, marked by stakes, there are hundreds of turtle eggs that are right now incubating.

It usually takes two months time for them to hatch.

A delicate situation that is never to be disturbed.

"Hatchlings inside their eggs are very vulnerable when being moved and nests that have to be moved, have to be moved very carefully," he said.

But that's exactly what The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is about to do in order to save hatchlings along the Gulf Coast.

Up to 70,000 turtle eggs in 800 nests buried on beaches across the Florida Panhandle and Alabama will be collected, taken to a warehouse at the Kennedy Space Center, where they will hatch, and then be released into oil-free waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Something that has never been done before in such a scale, but something Wood--a biologist who specializes in sea turtles-- says is necessary.

When they hatch, young turtles tend to stay along the surface.

"They swim through the surf, through the oil. It would prevent them from breathing properly. For a hatchling, it would be a death sentence," he said.

Wood says it will be an unprecedented challenge to keep the eggs in a warehouse, under sand with the required 80 to 90 degrees for incubation.

Many could be lost, but at this point it's the hatchling's only hope.

"In an emergency like this, it would be a way to help them out. Get more out to the ocean that would otherwise not been able to," he said.

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