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Oil Spill Response and Assessment Guidelines for Sea Turtles

During an oil spill important decisions need to be made fast, so it's critical that experts are equipped with the tools they need to consider all types of marine resources.

A man in a white coat on a boat holding an oiled sea turtle.
Dr. Brian Stacy, NOAA veterinarian, prepares to clean an oiled Kemp's Ridley turtle. Image credit: NOAA and Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources.

This is especially important when it comes to protected species like sea turtles.

To best prepare oil spill experts for oil spills where sea turtles could be impacted, NOAA has released “Guidelines for OIl Spill Response and Natural Resource Damage Assessment: Sea Turtles." The document is accessible online.

Top sea turtle and oil spill experts came together to develop these guidelines.The 200-plus page document contains invaluable resources on a wide range of topics, including sea turtle vulnerability at various life stages, conceptual models for injury assessment., and field and lab data collection protocols.

These guidelines provide an in-depth review of considerations for response and NRDA for sea turtles and incorporates knowledge gained from previous oil spills, especially the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (Macondo 252) spill within the northern Gulf of Mexico. Included in this document are essential tools and information pertinent to sea turtles found within U.S. waters to aid preparations for future oil spills, promote an effective spill response, and facilitate damage assessment.

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-61. 

Available for download here.