Posted by: catailsandotherfoundthings | July 6, 2010

Environmental Defense Fund

Gulf wildlife like sea turtles are at risk of being burned alive or drowned.


Dear Friends,

The BP oil disaster continues to ravage fragile coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico.

Now we are hearing of an additional, grave threat. Sea turtles and other protected species may be victims of sea-surface oil burning, skimming, or other efforts to control the spill.

In addition, many animals exposed to oil at sea will die by drowning or poisoning without ever being counted.

We can find no official public record of the numbers of animals being caught up in the oil slick or injured during response efforts. Current wildlife casualty reports only include the captured and collected animals, not those animals exposed to oil and left to die in the wild.

We need your help. Please take action today. Urge the Unified Command and federal agencies to:

  • Place qualified third party wildlife observers on “Vessels of Opportunity” responding to the BP oil disaster;
  • Publicly report all wildlife observations in the oil impact areas;
  • Postpone burns when protected species are present to allow for appropriate intervention and immediately implement measures to eliminate avoidable harm to all protected species; and
  • Coordinate wildlife rescue interventions when necessary.

We also ask that the agencies charged with safeguarding wildlife and protected marine species systematically collect and publicly report field data on oiled wildlife, not just those animals captured and collected, so that the public can see the real toll of this disaster for wild animals large enough to be effectively counted.

More Background

In an effort to contain the oil, BP and the Unified Command have responded by applying chemical dispersants, skimming oil from the sea surface, and conducting a series of surface oil burns.

Local responders and conservationists are complaining that these activities may be burning, drowning, or in other ways harming or killing wildlife, including endangered sea turtles.

Mike Ellis, a Louisiana boat captain reportedly involved in rescuing sea turtles, has been quoted in news accounts complaining that:

“They drag a boom between two shrimp boats and whatever gets caught between the two boats, they circle it up and catch it on fire. Once the turtles are in there, they can’t get out.”

We urge a more accurate, public accounting of the wildlife death toll from this disaster and more aggressive and appropriate intervention anywhere that oil response activities are taking place.

Please take action today: Urge the Unified Command to place third party observers on the response vessels and on the ground, publicly report wildlife observations in the oil response area, and call for intervention when necessary.

Thank you for your activism and support,
Stacy Small, Ph.D.
EDF Conservation Scientist

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