They say a picture says a thousand words. Here are a few thousand:
As you can see, the OMTU has received its first oiled patient. Last night, the on-water operation for sea turtles, led by Blair Witherington of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission aboard a LA Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries vessel and supported by NOAA helicopter assistance, collected one completely oil-covered epipelagic-stage small Kemp’s ridley in heavy mousse (which looks exactly what it sounds like but, being whipped oil, not nearly as tasty) 30 nm off of South Pass, LA. The crew reported that the turtle was extremely difficult to see, as it blended directly into the surface convergence oil/mousse lines. The turtle was transported to Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, where Michele Kelley, Dr. Cara Fields and additional Audubon staff examined, de-oiled, and treated the turtle – concluding the initial care at nearly midnight. They described the turtle as feisty, as well as being extremely angry at the ministrations it was receiving.
Based on this success, we hoped to continue operations today with a faster vessel from LDWF, but additional requests had been made by LA officials for water assets, so the mission was held off for tomorrow. We hope to continue these efforts at least through the weekend (depending on the ongoing success of the effort).
We are learning quite a bit from this first patient: that animals found oiled that far out (and closer to the source) can be collected but cleaning them can prove far more difficult; that the plans we have in place can work well for capture, transport and care; that it is wonderful working with the excellent professionalism exhibited by FFWC, LDWF, NOAA and Audubon (and no I didn’t want to abbreviate it) staff; and that I can successfully hold off blogging about an exciting new development in the OMTU until the information makes its way up the proper channels.
Come back tomorrow for still another announcement that I am dying to share…