Endangered Turtles Released into Gulf

Article excerpt

PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, Texas (AP) - Hundreds of tiny baby turtles with their dime-sized paddle-like feet dragged through the sand on Monday heading for a new home in the Gulf of Mexico despite the threat of oil some 400 miles away.

Born just days ago, these endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles were released off the Texas coast to a perilous life fleeing predators - and now also oil from the BP spill.

Unlike a decision to move loggerhead turtles in Florida to safer waters, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service decided in June to go ahead with the annual releases of thousands of Kemp's ridley turtle off the coasts of Texas and Mexico.

Since then, between 7,000 and 8,000 baby Kemp's have been released.

The Kemp's loggerhead cousins, who mostly nest and hatch in Florida, are being moved to that state's eastern coast to ensure they are not released directly into the oil's path. As for the Kemp's, federal biologists hope by the time the silver-dollar sized critters swim to the spill zone, BP will have cleaned up the toxic gook.

The biologists believe that baby turtles released in areas not directly impacted by the oil would suffer greater harm if they were held in captivity until the slick is cleaned. …