BP burning endangered turtles and other wildlife

BP is killing endangered sea turtles in its careless clean-up operations. Wildlife rescuers and fishermen have reported that turtles and other wildlife are being burned alive in the Gulf oil spill. 

According to the New York Times, “so-called burn boxes are torching oil from the water’s surface at the sacrifice of turtles, crabs, sea slugs and other sea life.”

A shrimp boat captain in Louisiana hired by BP was blocked from rescuing juvenile Kemp’s ridleys that were covered in oil in the Gulf waters. He was captured on video saying that the turtles are being collected in the clean-up efforts and burned up like so much ocean debris with other marine life gathering along tide lines where oil also congregates. He witnessed BP workers burning turtles caught in the oil booms. Turtle rescuer Mike Ellis was interviewed by conservation biologist Catherine Craig and was posted on YouTube.com.

The BP oil spill disaster has already killed thousands of turtles, dophins, fish, birds and other wildlife. According to NOAA Fisheries, 494 turtles have been found stranded, 377 of which were found dead. Rescuers have also found a dead endangered sperm whale, 49 stranded dolphins, and over 1,600 oiled birds.

Now, we find out that BP’s response operations are killing more wildlife. Turtle researchers from NOAA Fisheries, state wildlife agencies, and local boat captains are searching the Gulf waters for oil covered turtles. Unfortunately, before they can find them, many turtles are being captured by boom and caught in the fires to remove the oil. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are endangered species with legal protections, harming them is an illegal act and subject to prosecution and penalties. BP must be held accountable for killing endangered species and destroying their habitats.

BP must do more to rescue endangered species. They must increase the number of boats and personnel on the water rescuing all sea turtles encountered in oil spill operations and transport them immediately to one of the many rehabilitation centers available. The Endangered Species Coalition is calling on  President Obama and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, and NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco to order BP to stop the practice of burning oil without first looking for wildlife.

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