Clinicopathological findings in sea turtles assessed during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response

  • Published source details Stacy N.I., Field C.L., Staggs L., MacLean R.A., Stacy B.A., Keene J., Cacela D., Pelton C., Cray C., Kelley M., Holmes S. & Innis C.J. (2017) Clinicopathological findings in sea turtles assessed during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response. Endangered Species Research, 33, 25-37.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Rehabilitate reptiles following oil spills

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Rehabilitate reptiles following oil spills

    A replicated study in 2010 in two rehabilitation centres in Louisiana and Florida, USA (Stacy et al. 2017) found that almost all sea turtles that received de-oiling treatment following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico were rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Following de-oiling treatment, almost all rehabilitated sea turtles recovered and were released, including 189 of 192 Kemp’s ridley Lepidochelys kempii, 112 of 113 green turtles Chelonia mydas, nine of nine loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta and five of five hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata). Three Kemp's ridley turtles died within 3 days and one green turtle was euthanised 142 days after admission (due to bacterial infection). Turtles (mainly juveniles with carapace length <25cm) were collected by crews patrolling the northern Gulf of Mexico and transported by vehicle from ports to rehabilitation facilities (1–3-hour journeys). Upon admission, turtles were weighed and measured (including blood samples). Turtles were de-oiled using multiple external cleanings using vegetable oil, mayonnaise and mild liquid detergent as well as oral doses of cod liver oil and oil. They were also provided with fluid therapy, and where necessary with vitamin B, iron and/or calcium supplements, antibiotics and veterinary treatment. A small number (15–20 individuals) also received oral charcoal. The dose and duration of petroleum exposure was unknown, but 139 turtles were classified as lightly oiled, 76 as moderately oiled, 46 as heavily oiled and 58 as severely oiled.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, Katie Sainsbury)

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