Gulf Oil Spill Turtle Rescue Report - June 1

Afternoon Update
Thirteen hours of turtle work today. First half of the day was spent treating turtles that were admitted yesterday and over the past two weeks. Second half of the day was spent treating fourteen new oiled turtles that were recovered by search teams today: 12 Kemp's ridleys; one loggerhead and a beautiful hawksbill turtle.

So, the center now has 26 turtles that were found oiled. The affected turtles represent four of the five sea turtle species that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico. I have attached some photos of some of yesterday's turtles, which are doing pretty well, and swimming well today.

So far we are still getting mainly juvenile turtles, likely only one- to two-years-old based on their size. The highlight of the day was a large swarm of termites that invaded our work zone tonight. The turtle team kept working despite having termites crawling on our faces, down our shirts, in our hair, etc. They eventually flew away, and the work continued. There is an awesome team here at Audubon.

Morning Update

Search teams recovered eight more oiled turtles on May 31, 2010. The turtles arrived at the rehab center at about 7:30 p.m. last night. They were all juvenile turtles, weighing about 2 pounds on average: 7 Kemp's ridleys, and one very small green sea turtle. All turtles were treated with the standard treatments of bathing, cleaning oil out of the mouth and throat, electrolytes, toxiban and antibiotics. Several turtles had abnormalities including low blood sugar, low heart rate and high blood potassium. It's interesting that almost all of the oiled turtles so far are very small juveniles, even smaller than the juveniles we typically see cold-stunned in MA. We finished out work this morning at about 1 a.m. I am heading back to the center now to recheck all the turtles, and we are expecting more every day. Search teams will be on the water every day, weather permitting, for the next few weeks.

-Dr. Innis


  1. Amazing work, Dr. Innis! Thank you so much for the updates and thanks to all the hard working vets there caring for these animals.

  2. Those turtles are in good hands
    sounds like the TV show MASH down there!!!

  3. As soon as I heard about this I recalled photos of cold-stunned turtles in MA. I'm so glad NEAq was able to send staff down South to help. Great job.

  4. Your selfless acts are a true treasure. Your dedication and bright spirits are a shining beacon above such a devastating tragedy. Thank you!

  5. Why do you think only juveniles?

  6. @anonymous about juveniles. One theory is that the smaller turtles are not strong enough to keep swimming in the oily conditions, so they rest on the surface where rescuers can see them and pick them up. It seems that larger turtles are able to continue swimming and diving, making them less likely to be picked up.

  7. I have a big sailing ship I would like to turn into a clinic to get out and help these animals. I need info for grants or for some sort of funding to pay the bills. I have used it to bring medical aid to Haiti and believe we can do some solid work with her in the gulf. Can any one give me advice or some contacts? I am Jaredtalarski@gmail.com the boat is the schooner Halie and Matthew... I hope to hear back to get this moving forward.

  8. @ jared
    Unless someone else has a more direct contact to submit your vessel as a recovery vehicle, the only place we know to go is www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com. These numbers are listed for submitting your vessel as a skimmer, but maybe they can transfer you to someone at NOAA do discuss animal rescue uses: (866) 279-7983 or (877) 847-7470

    This previous post shows the pick-up process, and it has a link to the NOAA facebook page where you might also want to post your inquiry. http://rescue.neaq.org/2010/06/new-orleans-welcome-now-lets-get-to.html

    Best of luck, and thanks for caring!

  9. To Dr. Innis

    I write a newspaper every other month. I write a story in every issue and I wanted to write about the oil spill and how it is affecting all of the turtles. Do you have any ideas.

    Emma Kraus