Sea Turtles

Laboratory studies on sea turtles were performed because the young hatch on the beach and must swim from the shore through the ocean. Since those that hatch on the African or Indian coasts must swim through the sea lanes where there are large amounts of crude oil (Figure 6-4), laboratory studies were carried out to determine the effects of sublethal doses of crude oil. Young turtles that had to surface to breath through an oil slick that was 0.05-0.5 cm thick developed pretumorous changes, lesions, and swelling over a period of 2-4 days. When there was the option of surfacing in the presence of the oil or in an area where there was no oil, the turtles did not avoid the oil. These findings suggest that there may be long-term toxic effects on the young as they swim through the sea lanes. They may not encounter the high concentrations of oil in the laboratory experiments, but they will be in contact with it for longer periods of time.

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