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PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. — An effort to scoop thousands of turtle eggs from their nests to save them from death in the oily Gulf of Mexico will begin in the coming weeks in a desperate attempt to keep an entire generation of threatened species from vanishing.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will coordinate the plan, which calls for collecting about 70,000 turtle eggs in up to 800 nests buried in the sand across Florida Panhandle and Alabama beaches.
It's never been done on such a massive scale. But doing nothing, experts say, could lead to unprecedented deaths. There are fears the turtles would be coated in oil and poisoned by crude-soaked food as they hatch and swim out to sea.
"This is an extraordinary effort under extraordinary conditions, but if we can save some of the hatchlings, it will be worth it as opposed to losing all of them," said Chuck Underwood of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"We have a much higher degree of certainty that if we do nothing and we allow these turtles to emerge and go into the Gulf and into the oil ... that we could in fact lose most of them, if not all of them," he added. "There's a chance of losing a whole generation."
The Loggerheads have a worldwide range and hatch in 60 days; perhaps we can take these babies to another sea entirely.