MICHMORET, Israel (AP) – When it comes to saving sea turtles, Israeli rescuers have discovered that mayonnaise is a miracle.
Employees of the Israel National Sea Turtle Rescue Center are treating endangered green sea turtles affected by a devastating oil spill that has covered the coast of Israel in thick black tar.
The spill, which the Israel Nature and Parks Authority has called one of the worst ecological disasters on record in the country, has covered most of the 120 miles (195 kilometers) of Israel’s Mediterranean coast in sticky tar. It has caused great damage to wildlife, including sea turtles.
Guy Ivgy, a medical assistant at the Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Michmoret, north of Tel Aviv, said 11 turtles are being treated. The center is run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
“They came to us full of tar. His entire windpipe inside and out was full of tar, ”he said.
Workers have been removing the toxic substance from reptiles’ respiratory tracts and have found a creative way to remove it from their digestive tracts.
“We continue to feed them substances like mayonnaise, which pretty much clean the system and break down the tar,” Ivgy said. The recovery process is expected to take a week or two, after which the turtles are expected to be released back into the wild.
Thousands of volunteers and cleanup crews have mobilized to remove tar from Israel’s beaches, a task that is expected to take months.
Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection says it is investigating the cause of the oil spill.
The incident is believed to have taken place in early February and Israel said it did not receive any advance warning before some 1,000 tons of tar began to reach the coast. The tar has also made its way north to Lebanon.
On Monday, an Israeli court prohibited the publication of all the details of the investigation, including the name of the suspected ship that is believed to have spilled the oil, its route and the ports of call. An association of Israeli journalists asked the court on Tuesday to lift the order.