Gulf turtle eggs will be relocated

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) –  Wildlife experts plan to move thousands of sea turtle eggs from the gulf beaches to the Atlantic Coast.

They worry that if the eggs aren't moved, the hatchlings could be poisoned by the oil and thousands could die.

Tens of thousands of sea turtle eggs are laid every year along the gulf coast of Alabama and Florida. And experts plan to move them out of harm's way to Atlantic coast beaches.

"The best scenario you would want to release the hatchlings exactly where the eggs were laid. But obviously that's not possible," said Chet Powell of the Georgia Wildlife Rescue Association.

The Georgia Wildlife Rescue Association plans to help. "We're talking about as many as from seven to 800 nests," Powell said.

Recommendations to move the sea turtles were made by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the national marine fisheries service, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation commission. Essentially the eggs will be dug up on day 51, 52, or 53, the latter part of their incubation, and put in Styrofoam boxes filled with moist sand.

"Then they're going to be flown to the Atlantic Coast and they'll be hatched in the darkness of warehouses and released at night."

Powell says the method is similar to the Gopher Tortoise Project at Reed Bingham State Park. The former park manager started the program to protect our state reptile from predators.

One of the differences is that the sea turtle hatchlings won't be returned to their original nesting place.

But Like gopher tortoise eggs, sea turtle eggs must be handled delicately. "The nest and eggs you can't rotate them you have to keep the same orientation when taken out of the sand."

While predators often snatch the sea turtle hatchlings as they make their way to the ocean. They're now facing a different kind of killer, the oil. And hopefully this plan will help protect the majority of hatchlings this nesting season.

Chet Powell is taking supplies to Pensacola today.

©2010 WALB News. All rights reserved.   Feedback