In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill began and became the largest oil spill in history. It is estimated over 210 million gallons of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. During this time, CWN stood ready to respond to marine mammals and sea turtles in need. CWN is the only entity in the State of Louisiana that is authorized to rehabilitate marine mammals and sea turtles. During the crisis, CWN took in 196 sea turtles into and 4 marine mammals into rehabilitation.
Once sea turtles were admitted into rehabilitation a team of biologist and veterinarian care professionals were on standby to triage these animals. The intake for every sea turtle included receiving an identification tag and number, along with photographs, weights, and measurements. At this point, veterinarians would perform a brief external examination of the animals. They would look for secondary injuries to the oil such as lacerations, bite marks, overall body condition etc. Initial blood draws were also completed at this point and while results were pending the turtles would get their first bath to remove oil. This bath usually lasted 10-15 minutes with the turtle being coated in a thin layer of vegetable oil and then scrubbed with dish soap and a toothbrush. Once their initial bath is complete, the veterinarians would clean the more sensitive areas such as eyes, mouth and esophagus. The mayo helps bind and break down the oil. The veterinarians then administer fluids, vitamins, antibiotics and any other treatments the individual turtle may need. The last step in this process is tube feeding the mayonnaise to help pass any oil the turtle may have ingested. The turtles would be put into their individual crates for the night. As the days go on, the turtles would be handfed and provided with supportive care. Once the turtles were medically cleared, they would be placed into tubs filled with saltwater. Every day included careful monitoring to ensure the turtles remain healthy and strong.
In the end, CWN released 193 endangered sea turtles into the Gulf of Mexico in October 2010 and April 2011. 3 marine mammals were deemed non-releasable and transferred to permanent long term care facilities. CWN provides round the clock care for marine animals in need. CWN is the only entity in the state of Louisiana that is authorized to rehabilitate marine mammals, such as dolphins and manatees, and sea turtles. CWN is responsible for response and rescue for the entire Louisiana coastline 24 hours a day/7 days a week. CWN Stranding and Rescue staff are always on alert and at the ready to respond to a report of a marine mammal or sea turtle in distress, injured, or sick.