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A turtle completely covered in crude oil was found floating in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve off Ambergris Caye. The juvenile Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) was found by a group of divers on Tuesday July 24th along the channel at Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The divers rescued the animal and turned it over to park rangers in the area.

According to Hol Chan Marine Reserve Manager Miguel Alamilla, the green turtle was found sometime around 3PM on Tuesday. "The turtle was immediately transferred to our office where we began caring for it," said Alamilla. The green turtle, with carapace/back measuring 11 inches long and suspected to be between two to three years old, was observed entirely covered with thick black crude oil and inside the turtle's mouth was also filled with oil. The turtle was observed to be very fatigued and was unable to move

"We removed all of the crude oil from its outer body and as much of the oil from within the turtle's mouth. We do strongly believe that the turtle may have ingested some of the thick oil. We know that turtles are strong and tolerant and we are hoping that the turtle makes a full recovery" said Alamilla. The turtle is under close observation as cooking oil has been given to the turtle orally in an attempt to help the animal pass any crude oil it may have swallowed. While the turtle is weak, Alamilla says that the condition seems better than when it was brought in. If the heath of turtle deteriorates, an IV drip will be applied.

But where in Belize could a small juvenile turtle come in contact with crude oil? That's the same question that has the staff at Hol Chan puzzled. "We don't know the origin of the turtle and we don't know how this turtle came in contact with crude oil. What we know is that once crude oil hits the surface, part of it evaporates leaving the thick, tar like substance, as was found on this turtle," said Alamilla.

It is believed that because of the chemical components of crude oil, the turtle may have come in contact with it not too far away and very recently. "It is very difficult for a turtle of that size to survive very long with so such crude over and inside its body," said Alamilla. Biologists at Hol Chan suspect that there may have been an oil spill or natural seepage that has not been reported.

It is the hope of Hol Chan Marine Reserve for the turtle to show signs of improvements and to fully recover.

This is the first time that Hol Chan Marine Reserve has recorded a marine animal covered with crude oil.

San Pedro Sun


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Captain Kevin and his snorkelers save turtle in Hol Chan!!

Yes, can you believe it but yesterday at Hol Chan, Captain Kevin and a group of G Adventure snorkelers found a turtle covered in oil and saved its life!!

The group were out snorkeling in the Channel with Captain Kevin being their guide, when they came upon the motionless turtle. The turtle initially looked dead and covered in black oil that surrounded it but when they lifted out of the water and away from the oil the turtle looked to try and gasp for air. Kevin removed the excess oil from its mouth and quickly summoned the attention of the Marine Park Rangers who quickly took the injured turtle back to San Pedro to be treated!!

Initially all concerned, including Rangers felt that the turtle had traveled some miles with the oil as this had been an isolated incident that day and there were no reported oil spills around San Pedro that day. However, the day was far from over!!

Only minutes after the turtle was saves, continuing with their snorkeling of the Reserve the same group encountered yet another patch of oil and this time snorkeler Alexandra Bagge from the UK managed to tangle herself in the heavily sticky black liquid!! Enough was enough and the extremely good humored group made their way back home and commenced on the intensive job of trying to get the oil out of Alexandra's hair (gasoline and huge amount of shampoo) right outside the Raggamuffin office - everybody was involved as Madai and Adela drove poor Alexandra to the clinic to try and save her hair!!

We are happy to say that Alexandra's hair is looking as good as ever and experience is now quite a story to tell her friends!!

The Hol Chan office reported this morning that the turtle is doing better than yesterday - he is under strict observation and they are hoping that he continues to improve and can be set back into the reserve as soon as possible. They are very much looking into the cause of the oil as there is no drilling here in Belize and as mentioned, there were no reported oil spills from boats. What is a small possibility is that there can often be natural oil spills from a location called Rocky Point - all of these are being looked into to avoid this unusual incident from happening again!!

Keep up the good work Hol Chan Marine Reserve staff!!

Raggamuffin Tours


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Great Job Guys!.....

We hope you can find where the oil came from? When the Valdez spill happened we were still getting oil washed up on southern California Beaches for sometime, well after the spill.....Pretty gross stuff.....


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There are thousands of naturally occurring oil & gas seeps throughout the world. The lighter, more volatile components quickly degrade leaving a heavier tar behind. Chemical analysis should be able to determine if the ' oil tar' is a refined product. Seeps are a potential indicator for subsurface accumulations.

Judyann - The tar you see in California is the product of both seeps and spills. The Pacific Gyre Current prevents Alaska oil spills from reaching California.

Last edited by aj baxter; 07/26/12 09:27 AM.
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Very interesting.....I guess the California residence at the time simply wanted to blame someone for the very dirty beaches.....It was super gross....Large gooey messes about the size of manhole covers......Glad they got control of it.....


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What a beautiful turtle...


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Distressed Sea Turtle rescued in Hol Chan reserve


Sea turtle rescue

A juvenile Green Sea Turtle was rescued in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve this week and is currently undergoing rehabilitation. According to reports reaching the RSV News Centre, the sea turtle was found on Tuesday afternoon, completely covered by what appears to be petroleum tar. The source of the tar is not known at this time; but the contaminated sea turtle is currently undergoing rehabilitation in San Pedro town. Kera Foreman is a biologist with the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

As noted before, the contaminated sea turtle is a juvenile, and research shows that the endangered species can live for as long as eight years in the wild.

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Turtle found covered in crude oil is on the road to recovery

The juvenile Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) that was found by a group of divers on Tuesday July 24th along the channel at Hol Chan Marine Reserve covered in crude oil is on the road to full recovery. The good news was announced by Hol Chan Marine Reserve on their social media webpage. The announcement is welcome news considering the fact that scientists have been indicating that the turtle population in the area has long been dwindling.

"The turtle is doing well and its health condition is improving," confirmed Biologist Kira Foreman of Hol Chan Marine Reserve. As readers may recall, the green turtle with carapace/back measuring 11 inches long and suspected to be between two to three years old, was observed entirely covered with thick black crude oil. The inside of the turtle's mouth was also filled with oil and biologist had suspected that it had ingested some crude oil. The turtle was observed to be very fatigued and was unable to move the day it was found.

"Turtles that digest oil normally take a very long time to recover and with crude oil it could be even longer," explained Foreman. However the turtle has been surviving mainly on intravenously administered saline and dextrose solutions, but it is beginning to bite on a few greens. "We are seeing him picking on food and it is becoming a little more active. But until it begins eating well and is completely active, we will wait to release the turtle," said Foreman.

Foreman, who has been closely monitoring the medical condition of the green sea turtle, said that the excretion of the turtle is showing that it is passing out some crude oil. It was never established how the turtle came in contact with crude but is believed that because of the chemical components of crude oil, the turtle may have come in contact with it not too far away and very recently to the date that it was found. Biologists at Hol Chan suspected that there may have been an oil spill or natural seepage that was not reported. The juvenile turtle, whose sex is unknown at this time due to the size, is the first marine animal to be found at Hol Chan Marine Reserve completely covered with crude oil. It is the hope of Hol Chan Marine Reserve that as soon as the turtle is fully recovered that it will be released back into its natural habitat.

San Pedro Sun


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Oil Covered Turtle Recovers, Released

Last month, 7News aired the alarming story of a juvenile green sea turtle which was found covered in crude oil, along the main channel at in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve off Ambergris Caye on July 24.

The biologists from the Hol Chan Marine Reserve labored to rescue the turtle, where they had to clean it off, cleanse out its mouth, and get it to pass copious amounts of oil that it had swallowed from its digestive system.

It was discovered severely fatigued but due to the efforts of the biologists, the turtle was successfully rescued, and resuscitated. Yesterday, it was geo-tagged and released back into the Hol Chan Marine Reserve because the experts believe that it can now survive on its own.

The origin of the crude oil which the turtle was covered in has still not been established.

Channel 7


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Such good news to hear that the turtle was able to be rehabilitated. I somehow missed the story when it first broke but was delighted to read the follow-up!

Emily


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