Gulf World Marine Park has had great success in de-oiling sea turtles and leading the way for them to return to their natural habitat over the last couple months. The only de-oiling facility for sea turtles in Northwest Florida, they’ve seen hundreds of turtles come through their program since the Gulf oil spill crisis, but have seen it slow down considerably over the last couple weeks. Right now, they have around 60 turtles that are preparing to be released back into the wild. They just did a huge release yesterday of 23 turtles.
Leading the de-oiling program at Gulf World Marine Park was Melanie Secret Holmes-Douglas, the Director of Marine Mammals. Today, she was recognized for all her hard work, effort and 15+ hour days by Mayor Gail Oberst, claiming this day as Melanie Secret Holmes-Douglas Day, this August 18th, 2010. Oberst went on to say, “We live in such a wonderful community. . . We are a resilient bunch of folks, it’s comforting to see how we come together as a community.”
One of the hardest parts to clean, mentioned Secret, was the mouth. Some turtles took longer to clean than others, depending on the amount of skin folds and size of the animal. To keep the stress on the turtles low, they only performed one cleaning on each animal per day. Some turtles needed just one cleaning, others needed as many as six. The cleaning process involved mayonnaise and Dawn soap. The mayonnaise was to break up the oil, if it was thicker. They then used the Dawn soap to finish the cleansing.
Secret was totally surprised by today’s declaration. Her staff kept it a secret from her. Jokes were about, “We kept a secret from Secret.”
Almost all of the turtles that were on site were around the same size. When asked, it was explained that during the varying stages of like for these creatures, they are in different parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the turtles that were effected in the region where there was heavier concentrations of oil were smaller, about as big around as a basketball. Most of them swam constantly in their containment bins. It was remarked, that they are anxious to go home.
And, soon, they shall.