Hi all,

The Aquarium's chief veterinarian Dr. Charles Innis has been called upon to report to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Dr. Innis will depart on Sunday for New Orleans and report to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (AOA). AOA is one of four designated institutions to receive oiled sea turtles.

The four designated institutions have been supplied with specialized equipment to deal with the hazardous material covering these animals. Protocols for decontamination have been established and all personnel have been trained in hazardous material safety procedures.

I know what you are thinking...Why is Dr. Innis waiting until Sunday? Excellent question! To date there are only three oiled sea turtles in rehabilitation. On Monday, wildlife experts will begin regular vessel based surveys. To the best of my knowledge the surveys are expected to include aerial support. The pairing of vessel based surveys with aerial spotters is expected to result in the rescue of between 5-15 animals per day. These numbers are estimates and many factors will impact the outcome, in reality it will most likely be variable. The surveys may yield fewer then 5 animals on some days and greater then 15 on others. We will know a lot more after several days of survey effort.

Now as for a quick update - when I last blogged on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I showed photos of one of the two Kemp's ridley sea turtles undergoing care at AOA. Since then only one other sea turtle has entered rehab, a loggerhead.

In the photo below a de-oiled loggerhead sea turtle waits for the pool to fill.

Photo from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network Blog

In addition to the three oiled sea turtles in rehab, over 200 have washed up dead. None of these 200 dead sea turtles showed external signs of oil contamination. Twenty dead dolphins have been collected however none showed external signs of oil contamination. To date no manatees or whales have been found oiled.

When possible, Dr. Innis plans to blog on this site so stay tuned for first hand reports of his experiences working to save oiled sea turtles threatened by the Deepwater Horizon spill.

- Connie

As Connie mentioned in this previous post, only volunteers with certain qualifications are being called to help rescue animals affected by the oil spill. People often ask the Rescue Team how they can help in general. Some of those ways can be found in this post.

In addition to those options you can show your support for protecting our oceans by claiming a virtual plot of ocean and pledging to live blue on the Aquarium’s Live Blue Initiative: http://www.liveblueinitiative.org/

Thank you for reading and caring about the blue planet!


  1. because of the extreme emergency as a result of the oil spill are rescuers now allowed to remove animals from the water before "stranding"?

  2. Thank you for keeping us uptodate on this awful situation. Can you advise on what types of certifications are needed to help with rescue efforts?

  3. Does anyone know of a reputable organization doing work to rescue/rehabilitate wildlife suffering from the oil leak in the Gulf? I would like to start a drive to fund their efforts.