Kermit knows it ain’t easy being green, but for turtle hatchlings along the Gulf Coast, life is going to be even harder this year.
This season’s hatchlings, still nestled safely in their shells, face a new slew of dangers in the wake of the oil spill. The entire generation of turtles could potentially be wiped out by contaminated water and food unless drastic actions are taken. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has come up with an unconventional solution to save these at-risk reptiles.
The agency, along with droves of caring volunteers, must dig up roughly 70,000 delicate sea turtle eggs and transport them to safety on the Eastern coast of Florida. Several species of already-endangered turtles nest in the area affected by the spill, including Loggerheads and Kemp’s Ridleys, the most rare species of sea turtle.
The prospect of disturbing the fragile nests is daunting to say the least, but officials are hopeful. “This is an extraordinary effort under extraordinary conditions, but if we can save some of the hatchlings, it will be worth it as opposed to losing all of them,” says Chuck Underwood, Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Northern Florida.
After the eggs have been removed from their nests, the delicate cargo will ride out the rest of their incubation at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Then as carefully as they were scooped up in their shells, the lucky hatchlings will be let go into the Atlantic Ocean, in waters untainted by the oil spill.
The odds are stacked against these little critters, but with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and dedicated volunteers, and entire generation of a rare and beautiful species can be given the chance to live a long and happy life at sea.