Oiled Turtles Cleaned with Mayonnaise

Some turtles in the Gulf of Mexico are still getting oil on them. Crude oil can harm or even kill them. The Turtle Hospital in Florida is using mayonnaise to help clean oiled turtles at the their facility. The common sandwich spread is said to work very well at cleaning oil off the turtles and is non-toxic. It can also be fed to them to help pass any ingested oil.

Ryans Butts from the Turtle Hospital explained, “The mayonnaise is so safe we can put it in their eyes, mouth and nostrils, and rub it on their shells. (Source: National Wildlife Federation)

Dr. Greg Lewbart from North Carolina State University said, “Mayonnaise works really well to clean the turtles because it bonds with the oil.” (Source: North Carolina State) Mayonnaise is also inexpensive, and easy to find.

As of August 13, 525 dead turtles had been collected in the Gulf. They died from oil in their habitats. This number may very well be lower than the actual death toll. There could be many more that were oiled but never noticed by people. There still is much oil in the Gulf. Scientists believe a very large amount sank and is on the bottom. Floating seaweed called Sargassum also has been reported to contain oil. Sargassum mats provide floating habitat for turtles, and other marine species such as crabs.

This summer 25,000 sea-turtle eggs were relocated from Gulf beaches to Kennedy Space Center to protect them from surface oil, and to prevent the newly hatched babies from swimming into the oiled surface waters which would have killed them.

The turtle hospital is located in Marathon, Florida, which is in the Keys. Since 1986 they have rehabilitated released about 1,000 turtles. According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Florida is home to 90 percent of all turtle nests in the continental United States.

Mayonnaise can also be used for cleaning pine pitch, tar, or grease from human hands and tar from car paint, says Yankee Magazine.

Image Credit: The Turtle Hospital

Related Links:
Save the Loggerhead Turtle
Yu Chan the Bionic Turtle

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Mary L.
Mary L.3 years ago

Good to know they are being saved when possible. I have to wonder are the transplants going to be hatched at Kennedy then sent back to the gulf side or if they're going to be released into the Atlantic.

Bon L.
Bon L.4 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen4 years ago

even if it was saving turtles, isn't using mayonnaise cruel? I mean, it's made of eggs, the egg of cruelty right?

Julianna D.
Juliana D.5 years ago


Angie Bannister
Angie Bannister5 years ago

I want to be part of the turtle hospital!

Angie Bannister
Angie Bannister5 years ago

Awe! this is so sad, but so happy! thank god the turtles lived!

Gita Sasi Dharan
Gita Sasi Dharan5 years ago

Feel so happy to hear such stories of human kindness.

Ruth R.
Ruth R.5 years ago

"Mayonnaise can also be used for cleaning pine pitch, tar, or grease from human hands and tar from car paint, says Yankee Magazine."
I like how mayonnaise is so useful. Thank you for saving these turtles. Thank you for sharing this article.

Jane R.
Jane R.5 years ago

I'm very glad to hear this. Glad also to know that mayonaise will remove grease from my hands & tar from my car!

Hannah H.
Hannah H.5 years ago