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Researchers rehabilitate oiled turtles in Kalamazoo River

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Biologist Josh Otten wanted to know if cleaning and treating Northern map turtles after the spill had improved their survival rates. He found rehabilitated turtles did fare better than non-rehabbed turtles in the short term. That is, within fourteen months of the spill.

“The 1000s of volunteer hours, the 1000s of veterinary hours, you know, changing water and keeping these turtles ended up and helped the population quite a bit,” Otten said.

Otten also studied how the turtles were doing eight to eleven years after the spill. He said it appears rehabilitation has not influenced the turtles’ long-term survival rates.

Even with the cleanup, about eight percent of known oiled northern map turtles died within a couple months of the oil spill. Northern map turtles are the most common turtle species in the Kalamazoo River.