|Thelma, or turtle #15, returns to nest in Texas after surviving the effects of the Ixtoc 1 oil spill in 1979 and the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf. Her hatchlings are likely to be exposed to oil as they enter Gulf currents to feed.|
Today's New York Times recounts the struggle of the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, and finds that an individual sea turtle named Thelma who was relocated out of an oil spill over 30 years ago has safely returned to nest again on Texas Beaches.
Thousands of juvenile Kemp's ridleys were transported out of the wake of the Ixtoc 1 oil spill disaster in 1979, which dumped millions of gallons of oil near the primary nesting beaches for Kemp's ridleys in Mexico. This one brave female sea turtle, named Thelma by scientists, has been tracked to consistently return to nest in Texas, and once again she has been spotted in almost the exact location she was originally hatched and released from.
Experts studying the 156 dead sea turtles that have washed up on Gulf beaches still have no solid evidence that oil was to blame. The majority of these dead sea turtles are juvenile Kemp's ridleys, who are known to be regularly killed by commercial fishing operations.
"The oil spill is putting these dead sea turtles on the front pages, but destructive commercial fishing practices kill nearly this many Kemp's ridleys each year," states Dr. Chris Pincetich of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. " The combined effects of the timing of the oil spill, the increased fishing pressure that immediately followed it, and the toxic effects of the spill have us very worried about the entire population of Kemp's ridleys."
Read the entire New York Times story here.
Read our daily updates on the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the effects it is having on Gulf sea turtles written by Dr. Chris Pincetich, marine biologist and toxicologist working for the Sea Turtle Restoration Project.