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Ask NOAA

Question

How does oil harm sea turtles?

Answer

Young sea turtles use highly productive areas where ocean currents meet, known as surface converge zones. Here, the marine algae Sargassum grows and thrives at the surface, providing turtles with feeding and sheltering habitat.

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill collected in these zones, causing many of these small, young turtles to come into direct contact with oil. Oil can interfere with breathing, and coat the turtles' eyes and skin. If turtles ingest any of the oil, it can interfere with digestion or cause internal  organ damage. Turtles can also become stranded in the oil itself.

Sea turtle experts at NOAA and other federal, state, local and nongovernmental partners have and will continue to work together to monitor for, rescue and rehabilitate stranded or injured sea turtles and
investigate turtle deaths.

For the latest figures on sea turtle strandings and captures go to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/oilspill.htm.

To learn more about NOAA’s response to the BP oil spill at http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/deepwaterhorizon.

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