Tomo Eguchi works for the Marine Turtle Ecology and Assessment Program at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif., and is part of one team assembled to help rescue sea turtles caught up in the oil spill operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Sea Turtle Recovery Team Leader/Venice, Louisiana
Through most of July, Tomo’s turtle rescue team plied the Gulf waters looking for sea turtles impacted by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill on the 55-ft sport fishing vessel Strike Zone. With the assistance from a spotter aircraft and the captain’s local knowledge, the rescue team looked for convergence zones, where Sargassum tends to aggregate and sea turtles forage.
There are five species of endangered or threatened sea turtles that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico. During Tomo’s two-week rotation, the Strike Zone team captured 32 turtles composed primarily of Kemp's ridleys. The turtles were netted and brought onboard for examination. If oiled, oil samples were collected and the turtles were cleaned, measured, and transported to the Audubon rehabilitation center outside New Orleans. Those turtles without evidence of oil exposure were measured, tagged when possible, and released.
To watch videos of the turtle rescue operations by Tomo and his team, please click on the following links: