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For Rescued Sea Turtle Eggs, A Slim Chance at Survival

NOAA Fisheries veterinarian, Brian Stacy, describes a very unusual attempt to rescue the eggs of a sea turtle that was hit
and killed by a boat.

By Rich Press, NOAA Fisheries Science Writer | Posted: June 8, 2014
Follow Rich on Twitter: @Rich_NOAAFish


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Baby leatherback sea turtle crawling on the beach towards the ocean. View slideshow A newly-hatched leatherback sea turtle faces long odds when it heads out to sea. Photo: Scott Benson/NOAA. turtle_egg_rescue_02.jpg turtle_egg_rescue_03.jpg turtle_egg_rescue_04.jpg

A boat hit a female leatherback sea turtle off the coast of Florida recently, and a boater who later saw the injured animal called the stranding hotline. Law enforcement officers and a veterinarian were dispatched to the scene. Unfortunately, they were unable to save the turtle. They were able to save something though: the sea turtle's eggs, which they planted in an artificial nest.

We don't know yet if this story will have a happy ending—we're still waiting to see if any of the eggs will hatch. But in the meantime, here to tell the story is Brian Stacy, a veterinarian and sea turtle expert with NOAA Fisheries.

UPDATE: Allen Foley, one of the biologists interviewed for this podcast, reports that the artificial nest showed no sign of hatching after 80 days. The usual incubation period for leatherback sea turtles is 55 days. Scientists dug up the nest and examined the eggs. The eggs showed no signs of development, indicating either that they were never fertilized or died very early in development.

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