Turtles rescued from oil spill released

Oct. 26, 2010 at 7:58 PM

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The release of turtles rescued from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a milestone in the rehabilitation of the region's wildlife, conservationists say.

This week saw rescued turtles returned to gulf waters off Louisiana six months after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hundreds of rare turtles were rescued from foul water and thousands of eggs were excavated from soiled beaches by volunteers through the summer, the newspaper said.

Hundreds of young turtles found swimming in oil-fouled water were taken to the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans where they were cared for and nursed back to health.

This week saw the first batch of Kemp's ridley, hawksbill, loggerhead and green sea turtles taken by boat to the release site,

a 25-mile-long line of sargassum beds known as a weed line.

The first turtle, a Kemp's, was lowered into the water and disappeared beneath the surface, swimming away vigorously.

"That's a happy turtle," Audubon's Michele Kelley said, smiling.

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