IMMS rehabs oil-covered sea turtles - - The News for South Mississippi

IMMS rehabs oil-covered sea turtles


By Meggan Gray – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Congressional leaders on the front lines of this oil spill investigation are turning to a marine expert from South Mississippi for answers. Dr. Moby Solangi, executive Director for the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, testified Monday before a Senate panel in Chalmette.

"Their questions were really related to the long term and short term effects on the environment and the wildlife and the food, the food chain and how the hydrocarbons would enter," explained Dr. Solangi.

He said by talking about the long-term implications of this disaster, he hoped Congressional leaders would understand the magnitude of what we're dealing with in the Gulf.

"This is not just a local issue. It was a national issue. That the trickle effect from what happens here, whether it's the seafood going or the tourism, is going to affect the country."

Dr. Solangi said the panel was very pleased to learn about IMMS, and its facilities. The institute is the only one of its kind in Mississippi and Alabama.

"One of their biggest concerns was that we were not ready to respond to such a large scale oil spill and that facilities like ours and others, preparations should have been made and will be made in the future to respond to situations like this."

But IMMS is ready to step in and help. In fact, it just received its first oil-related cases.  Two sea turtles found in Alabama covered in oil were brought to the Gulfport facility last week.

On Tuesday, Shea Eaves was cleaning the young Loggerhead. 

"He's been with us for a few days now and is recovering nicely thus far - fingers crossed," she said. "But you can see how small he is and how difficult that is to be able to kind of work through getting the oil off of him in the process that goes into doing so."

Eaves said the initial cleanings took about an hour the first two days. The turtles still need to be cleaned at least once a day to remove any residual oil.

"You can use the dawn for all of the external areas, and then if we need to get inside their mouth - which they do have a lot of oil that will get trapped inside their mouth and sometimes in and around their eyes - we'll use mayonnaise for that," she explains.

Both the Loggerhead and the Hawksbill turtles will continue to be rehabilitated at the Institute until it is safe to release them into the wild.

Dr. Moby Solangi said his institute hasn't had to respond to any animals here in Mississippi because the oil isn't here, yet. He said it's only a matter of time, though.

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