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Monday, July 19, 2010

First Baby Sea Turtles Rescued From Gulf Are Released

First Baby Sea Turtles Rescued From Gulf Are Released

After 88 stressful days, the Gulf oil spill seems to be contained and there is good news to report about one group of animals that was threatened. With help from NASA, the first group of baby sea turtles that were part of the massive effort to save endangered wildlife from the dangerous oil-filled water was released into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Associated Press revealed that fifty-six young sea turtles were released on a beach at Canaveral National Seashore in Florida, on July 11. They were part of a group of sixty-seven eggs that were collected June 26 from a nest along the Florida Panhandle and delivered to a temperature-controlled warehouse at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for incubation.

NASA reported that twenty-two of the hatchlings were endangered Kemp’s ridley turtles while the others were loggerheads. The remaining eleven eggs from the group did not hatch.

NASA is currently caring for 1,100 eggs at the space center incubation site. This is part of an overall plan to rescue 70,000 eggs from sea turtle nests buried in the sand on beaches along Alabama and Florida before they can hatch and swim into the hazardous water.

Scientists were torn between the consequences of intervening to save the eggs or to leave them alone. They knew the stress of moving the eggs could kill some of the turtles, but if they didn’t help they realized many of hatchlings would die from the oil.

They chose to remove the eggs or run the risk of - “killing off an entire generation of an already imperiled species.”

A rescue mission of this size has never been done before so NASA scientists and the rescue teams of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA were very happy to see the first group of hatchlings doing so well.

David Godfrey, executive director of the Florida-based Sea Turtle Conservancy told the AP, “The first successful release of hatchlings brings hope that more will survive. It definitely shows that we’re on the right track.”

The turtle eggs were originally sent to NASA in their nests and gently placed in Styrofoam boxes. They were then transported in specially equipped trucks. Once at NASA the eggs were monitored around the clock until their incubation was complete. They were transferred back to the beach in the Styrofoam boxes for an evening release.

I hope you will watch this interesting video filmed by NASAtelevision about the incubation process and historic release.