As of July 12, 1,789 birds, 457 sea turtles, and 59 marine mammals had been found dead along the Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi coasts, according to a government assessment of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill's impact on wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico.
Nearly 1,300 animals had been recovered alive, and about 500 of them, mostly birds, had been returned to the wild, the report stated. Not all the injuries and deaths were attributable to the spill, the report added, and the causes of death would be determined at a later date.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had expanded the boundary of the closed fishing area to the Florida panhandle, encompassing some 80,000 square miles of the Gulf.
In addition to recovery and rehabilitation efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other government agencies were protecting sea turtle nests and eggs along the Gulf Coast with a plan to move an estimated 700 nests to safe areas.
Turtle nests are marked to prevent damage from beach clean-up operations, and eggs are collected at a point in the incubation cycle when transport is less likely to result in the loss of viable eggs.
Once collected, eggs are individually packed in specially prepared polystyrene boxes and transported to a secure, climate-controlled location on the east-central coast of Florida, where they will remain until incubation is complete.
"As hatchlings emerge they will be released on east-central Florida beaches, where they will be allowed to make their way to the ocean," said Barbara Schroeder, sea turtle coordinator with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.