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Investigation of Dead Sea Turtles in the Gulf Continues

A total of 430 sea turtles have now been impacted by the deadly duo of commercial fishing and offshore oil in the Gulf. Eleven new sea turtles have been rescued alive and oiled today. An additional 8 sea turtles were reported as dead strandings, with the presence of oil still “pending”.

Of all wildlife collected in the wake of the BP oil spill, the presence or absence of visible oil was determined on 99.3% of birds, 90.3% of marine mammals, and only 39.7% of sea turtles.  To download the data, click here.

With trained fish and wildlife professionals handling all the official activities, it remains a mystery as to why the presence or absence of visible oil on over 60% of the sea turtles is still not known.

“I have made written and verbal requests for the results of the sea turtle necropsy tissue sample analysis, and have not received a response from NOAA or the wildlife care professionals. The death of each endangered sea turtle can not be taken lightly. Our public agencies have a duty under the Endangered Species Act to determine causes of death and take enforcement action where needed,” says Dr. Chris Pincetich of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project.

The Sea Turtle Restoration Project is investigating the irregularities of the current cause of death of the hundreds of sea turtles this year being tallied by the Consolidated Fish and Wildlife officials. We have led efforts in the Gulf to reduce sea turtle deaths for over a decade. Intense commercial fishing pressure continues to be the leading killer of endangered sea turtles, and we intend to “keep our boot on the neck” of our public officials until this mystery of hundreds of stranded Gulf sea turtles is solved.

Dr. Mike Ziccardi from the University of California at Davis, head of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network and currently stationed in Louisiana overseeing sea turtle rehabilitation, reported today that 75 sea turtle necropsies have been performed, and no signs of oil internally or externally were detected on these first 75 dead sea turtles.

Shrimping nets continue to be the lead suspect in the deaths of hundreds of sea turtles this spring that have washed ashore without any signs of oil exposure.