An oil slick caused by the explosion and sinking of a drilling platform off the Louisiana coast could put at risk a population of rare turtles that UAB scientists have been working to save since 2004.
Biologists have estimated that there are 100 to 150 rare diamondback terrapins living in a marsh at Cedar Point, just north of Dauphin Island. Already at risk of being wiped out by predators, the turtles now face the possibility of an oil slick that could contaminate their food supply, said Thane Wibbels, a professor of biology.
“It could get the entire food pyramid,” he said.
Scientists hope that water coming downriver into Mobile Bay will keep the oil slick offshore, protecting the marsh. But they’ve delayed plans to release captive turtles as part of a repopulation program until they know for sure.
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