A recent Los Angeles Times article confirmed that sea turtles are being burned in the efforts to clean up the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But according to a shrimp boat captain hired by BP and the Coast Guard to rescue sea turtles, workers are being actively blocked from their rescue efforts by the oil company and it’s 21,000 contractors.
Shrimp boater Mike Ellis says that BP has shut down the sea turtle operation by preventing boats from getting to the turtles. As detailed in the LA Times story, controlled burns are part of the efforts to contain the oil spill. Sea tutles and other marine life are caught in the booms and the burn area and are burned along with the oil. “Once the turtles get in there they can’t get out,” Ellis said.
As Daniel Tencer at Raw Story points out, the majority of the sea turtles affected by the oil spill are the endangered Kemp’s Ridleys. In fact, harming or killing a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle carries a very stiff penalty–up to $50,000 per instance–and bodies of dead animals are being gathered as evidence to determine BP’s liability. Some are suggesting that burning the turtles is one way to hide evidence on BP’s part.
Watch the Mike Ellis interview by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project
Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Richard Byle