Environment
2:23 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Michigan turtles still feeling effects of oil spill

According to an article in the Battle Creek Enquirer, turtles are still suffering negative effects from last year's oil spill in west Michigan's Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo River.

Scientists including Bob Doherty have been working to rehabilitate affected turtles and document the extent of the damage to turtle populations caused by remaining submerged oil.

Doherty is under contract with Enbridge Inc., the company responsible for the spill.

Doherty and his staff will administer care to some 30 rescued turtles in the coming months who are not healthy enough to return to the wild for winter hibernation.

From the Enquirer:

Throughout this summer's oil spill cleanup, turtles with oil on them were still being discovered, said Lisa Williams of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some were cleaned in the field while others had to be taken into Doherty's wildlife center for care, Williams said.

In total, Doherty's team caught 4,200 turtles this year and checked them for oil, he said. Of those, 1,500 were cleaned. Others had damage to their shells from boats. About a dozen were recorded as dead.

"It was a mix this summer of turtles that appeared to have oil that might have been on them since the original incident and some that had gotten into the submerged oil," Williams said

Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williams covered the effects of the spill on turtles and other wildlife for the Environment Report earlier this year. The story profiled other groups doing cleanup and rehabilitation work:

After the spill, rescue teams collected more than 2,400 birds, mammals, fish and reptiles... and took them to a rehab center to have the oil cleaned off. Most of the animals brought into the center survived.

David Mifsud is a herpetologist. He was hired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help with the initial wildlife recovery.

He says turtles made up the majority of wildlife rescued from the spill site.

“We had some, their mouths were so tacky with the oil they could barely open their mouths. We saw some pretty devastating things.”

-John Klein Wilson-Michigan Radio Newsroom