70K Sea Turtles saved from oil - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

70K Sea Turtles saved from oil

Posted by Elizabeth Stewart - email

(WFLX) - "They choose where they are going to plop their eggs." Palm Beach Zoo's Larry Wood points at a sea turtle nesting area at Jupiter's Carlin Park.

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" 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 the oil-free waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

This is something that has never been done before on 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."

Wood says it will be an unprecedented challenge to keep the eggs in a warehouse, under sand at the required 80 to 90 degrees. Many won't make it. 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 than we would otherwise be able to."

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