Mayo Mixture Helps Oil-Soaked Turtles

Taken at Audubon Nature Institute

Break out the mayo. Who would have thought it would play a role in the oil spill cleanup in the Gulf? Mystic Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Allison Tuttle is turning to the condiment to help care for oily sea turtles.

Tuttle cleans the dirty turtles by coating them with vegetable oil and mayonnaise. She told the Day of New London that the mixture “bonds with the fuel oil and makes it easier to remove it with dish liquid.”

"It definitely affects you on a personal level. Your heart goes out to them. But it's busy and you don't have time to focus on that," she told the paper.

Tuttle traveled to New Orleans last month to help the Audubon Nature Institute, which was treating sea turtles rescued from the spill.

Together they cared for more than 100 turtles. The tricky part was not only cleaning off the shells, but also finding a way to move the toxic oil through the animals' digestive system.

They tried activated charcoal but to no avail. In the end, it was a mixture of cod liver oil and mayonnaise, pumped by tube, into their tiny stomachs that did the trick.

After being cleaned, the turtles were moved to a separate area to continue their recovery.

In August, Tuttle plans to return to New Orleans where she hopes to help out once again. The turtles are now being kept at the Audubon Society but Tuttle told the Day, the Mystic Aquarium is ready to house some of them if needed.

The turtles can not be released back into the Gulf because of the oil.

"It's a tough situation. You make the best of it as you can and try to help as many turtles as you can," she told the paper, adding that scientists are gaining valuable knowledge about how to treat turtles if there is a future spill.

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