Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Catastrophe Threatens Sea Turtles and All Gulf Ocean Life

By June 24, 2010Sea Turtles

The Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program is vigorously cleaning endangered Kemp’s Ridley juvenile sea turtles that have been coming in to the center covered in oil. At least 186 sea turtles and more than 60 birds have recovered dead or dying during the oil spill.

Experts studying the dead sea turtles that have washed up on Gulf beaches still have little solid evidence that oil was to blame. The majority of these dead sea turtles are juvenile Kemp’s ridleys, who are known to be regularly killed by commercial fishing operations.

“The oil spill is putting these dead sea turtles on the front pages, but destructive commercial fishing practices kill nearly this many Kemp’s ridleys each year,” states Dr. Chris Pincetich of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. ” The combined effects of the timing of the oil spill, the increased fishing pressure that immediately followed it, and the toxic effects of the spill have us very worried about the entire population of Kemp’s ridleys.”

BP’s use of toxic oil dispersants has finally been stopped due to an order from the EPA. Millions of gallons of these toxic chemicals were applied both to the surface and deep underwater in an attempt to minimize the visible surface oil slick. Fish, corals, plankton, and all pelagic marine life were exposed.

Scientists and reporters are increasingly frustrated by BP’s management of the spill response, with some claiming obstructive activities to open study and reporting of the disaster. Concerns also abound about our governments’ response as well. Some choice examples of these concerns are below.

“The fact that NOAA has missed the ball catastrophically on the tracking and effects monitoring of this spill is inexcusable,” said Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska marine conservationist who recently spent more than a week on the Gulf Coast advising Greenpeace. “They need 20 research ships on this, yesterday. This is probably turning out to be the largest oil spill in U.S. history and the most unique oil spill in world history.”

Frank Muller-Karger, an oceanography professor at the University of South Florida who will be testifying before the House Energy Committee on Wednesday, said that testing for oil beneath the surface should be a top priority. “I think that should be one of our biggest concerns, getting the technology and the research to try to understand how big this amorphous mass of water is, and how it moves,” Dr. Muller-Karger said. “[The spill]It’s like an iceberg. Most of it is below the surface. And we just have no instruments below the surface that can help us monitor the size, the concentration and the movement.”

 How You Can Help

1) Call for an end to oil drilling in your comments to strengthen the Kemp’s ridley Recovery Plan on Gulf of Mexico beaches.

2) Email the Obama administration to demand a new moratorium on offshore oil drilling, Sea Turtles and Oil Don’t Mix!

The struggle of the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico is highlighted by the story that finds that an individual sea turtle, named #15, who was relocated out of an oil spill over 30 years ago has safely returned to nest again on Texas Beaches. Thousands of juvenile Kemp’s ridleys were transported out of the wake of the Ixtoc 1 oil spill disaster in 1979, which dumped millions of gallons of oil near the primary nesting beaches for Kemp’s ridleys in Mexico. This one brave female sea turtle has been tracked to consistently return to nest in Texas, and once again she has been spotted in almost the exact location she was originally hatched and released from.

Click here to read more about the toxic effects of the oils spill on sea turtles