DAWN Dish Detergent Helps Save Sea Turtles

Last Thursday, our sea turtle hospital received a call from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) about a post-hatchling turtle that was found washed up on the beach, covered in oil. The turtle, a small green, was found near the Lake Worth Fishing Pier by our colleagues at DB Ecological Services, while they were conducting their morning sea turtle nesting survey.

This was the second time in just as many days that a turtle stranded on our local beaches, covered in oil. Dr. Charlie and team knew that they would have to act immediately to remove the oil and begin treatment, in order for the turtle to have a chance of survival.  Oil poses a significant threat to all marine life, including sea turtles. Effects of oil can include burning of mucus membranes of the eyes and mouth, irritation or inflammation of the animal’s skin, respiratory irritation, organ damage, and even reproductive failure.

Dr. Charlie had his team prepare the necessary tools for oil removal, which included a bottle of household DAWN Dishwashing Detergent and several tooth brushes. DAWN dishwashing detergent has been used effectively by rehabilitation teams for many years to gently remove oil from birds, sea turtles, and other marine life. The detergent is effective at low concentrations and has the ability to remove most oils without further irritating an animal’s skin.

The hospital team was able to remove all of the oil from the turtle. After further examination, Dr. Charlie was able to confirm that there was only a small amount of oil in the turtle’s mouth and none appeared to be near the near the esophagus – the turtle did not appear to have ingested any oil

Following the removal of the oil, the turtle was administered fluids and later offered food (which it ate quickly). The turtle continues to receive treatment in our sea turtle hospital and Dr. Charlie is optimistic that it will make a full recovery. Unfortunately, without an evaluation from a petroleum engineer or chemist, we are unable to determine the source of the oil; however, it was most likely dumped from a boat offshore.

An estimated 50-75% of all life on Earth is found under the ocean’s surface. Thousands, if not millions, of marine species call the ocean home. It’s important for us all to make responsible decisions and be mindful of how each of our individual actions will impact the ocean ecosystem.

How can you help make a difference?

Educate others about the conservation of sea turtles and protecting our ocean.

Remove debris from local beaches and waterways.

Boat responsibly. More tips on responsible boating can be found here.

Support Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

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