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Rescuing Sea Turtles With Kitchen Utensils and Fedex

Along the beaches of the Florida panhandle and Alabama there is a massive rescue effort underway involving butter knifes and forks, tricked-out Styrofoam coolers and specially-rigged FedEx trucks.

The job is to scoop 70,000 mostly loggerhead sea turtle eggs out of the sand (very carefully, using kitchen utensils among other tools) before the hatchlings can swim out into the Gulf where they will either suffocate or be poisoned when they start floating with the current and munching on oil-soaked seaweed.

It is an unusual example of across-the-board cooperation among the federal government (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and local environmentalists, who are usually loudly against any such intervention. No matter the threat, relocating turtles nests is rarely done. Here it’s being regarded as essential.

Early this morning I talked with J. Nichols, a research associate with the California Academy of Sciences who was just leaving the dock in Grand Isle for a day observing the impact of the oil gusher on local wildlife. His Grupo Tortuga has for years been dedicated to restoring Pacific Ocean sea turtles. His response to the unorthodox rescue plan? “I wouldn’t want to put any turtle into that oil if there’s another option.”

(For the rest of my dispatch go to

Lousiana Water Stories, on GMA

We first went to Southern Louisiana with cameras one year ago; we’ve been back a couple times since and are just wrapping up the editing of a beautiful, provocative film – “SoLa, Louisiana Water Stories” – about man’s relationship with water in a part of the world where everywhere you look you’re surrounded by bayou, swamp or wetlands, the Mississippi River or Gulf of Mexico.

The region is home to the most unique and vital culture in America and every Cajun from Grand Isle to Breaux Bridge, has a story – or two, three or more – about … water.

Theirs are stories with a lot of passion and heart but also a fair amount of dismay. SoLa’s waterways are home to some serious environmental problems, including oil and gas spills, petrochemical waste that has filtered into the air and water, fertilizer run-off from its neighbors and coastal erosion that is disappearing twenty-five square miles of Southern Louisiana each year.

Tomorrow morning (August 27) between 8 and 9 a.m. EST ABC’s  “Good Morning America” and Sam Champion are excerpting a piece from our film, taking their own look at one of the most serious and mysterious of SoLa’s problems, a growing Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico.