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Earth Science

The Gulf's Great Turtle Relocation Project 104

An anonymous reader writes "All along the Gulf Coast's beaches it's turtle-hatching season. Conservationists knew the poor hatchlings wouldn't have a chance if they swam out into the oily waters of the Gulf, so they came up with an incredibly ambitious plan: they would dig up 70,000 turtle eggs, carefully raise them in a climate-controlled hanger at the Kennedy Space Center, and release the hatchlings into the clean Atlantic waters off Florida's east coast. Now that project is well underway, and Discover Magazine has pictures of the first batch of hatchlings crawling toward the welcoming waves. But there's a chance all this do-gooding won't do any good. New Scientist found experts who argue that releasing them into the Atlantic rather than into the Gulf will screw up the turtles' navigation systems, which will prevent them from following their normal migratory routes."
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The Gulf's Great Turtle Relocation Project

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  • by garyisabusyguy ( 732330 ) on Friday July 16, 2010 @07:00PM (#32933406)

    That the 'experts' are worrying about, but really... what are the other options?

    What are the potential outcomes of letting the hatchlings make their way into the polluted water?
        Turtles die of exposure to oil
        Turtles survive because all the predators have already died from the oil
        Most turtles die, except for a few that have a natural ability to survive on oil
        Surviving turtles attack remaining oil reservoirs and consume them

    Seriously, I think that the people who have committed themselves to preventing a straight up die off of an entire generation of gulf-coast turtles should be commended as heros.

    fwiw, I hope that the 70K extra turtle on the Atlantic coast overwhelm the natural predators and allow more hatchlings to reach adulthood. Is there a chance that the introduced population could displace the natives? Possibly.

    What have been the results of other navigating species (salmon, birds, monarch butterflies...) who are relocated?

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday July 16, 2010 @07:19PM (#32933578) Homepage

    Maybe they'll end up establishing new populations in different locations.
    It's certainly better to give them the chance rather than simply let them be exterminated.

    I think it's important to note that while 70,000 eggs seems like a lot, it comes from only 800 nests in two states. Turtles lay a lot of eggs, because most of them are not going to survive in any case.

    The point here is that they're hardly moving all the turtle hatchlings to the east coast, so if moving them is futile or even detrimental compared to leaving them in the Gulf, that'll be apparent in the outcome of the sea turtles that will hatch in the sands of the Gulf coast. On the other hand, if they have even a chance to survive in the Atlantic while the Gulf ends up being certain death for the turtles left there, then that's a huge win. The species occurs naturally on the Atlantic coast, so it's not like we're introducing a new species with potentially detrimental consequences.

    There's very little downside here, and the potential for a huge upside. The experts may be right that it is futile, but it is absolutely worth trying and I commend these folks for it.

  • Re:A Waste Of Time (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:38PM (#32934376)

    It's waste of money. What's the benefit of saving the damn turtles?

    In my home country people have been trying to save the damn sea turtle for a damn long time. Look it up: the Sea Turtle Project in Brazil. They look for the nest in beaches and project their surroundings to (greatly) increase survival chances.

    You know what that's useless? Because if you stop to do it, the Sea Turtle population will starting becoming smaller again. It was going to vanish anyway. But people feel good protecting it. The environment changes. Species die. That's it. It seems cruel but it just how it works.

    People seem to think man-made environmental change is different than nature-made. Wake up. Men is part of nature. The Gulf oil spill is no different than a beaver damn collapsing - besides the scale.

    And if you someday drop by a Northeastern Brazil beach, rent a car, go a small coastal town and try a Sea Turtle soup dish - it's kinda of rare, due to protection laws and you may have to look for a while. Ask also for cachaça, the local alcoholic beverage. And chili. It's amazingly good.

  • Re:A Waste Of Time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by atomicthumbs ( 824207 ) <atomicthumbs @ g m> on Saturday July 17, 2010 @03:05AM (#32935396) Homepage
    So it's bad to try to fix something we screwed up?

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.