More than 150,000 Call on BP and Federal Officials to Stop Burning Endangered Sea Turtles Alive

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Andrea Treece, atreece@biologicaldiversity.org, (415) 378-6558
Becky Bond, bbond@credomobile.com, (415) 595-0040

More than 150,000 Call on BP and Federal Officials to Stop Burning Endangered Sea Turtles Alive

SAN FRANCISCO - More than
150,000 people today called on BP to stop burning alive endangered sea
turtles
in the chaotic clean-up efforts in the Gulf of
Mexico. They also called on the federal government to put an
immediate end to this gruesome practice. CREDO Action and the Center for

Biological Diversity will deliver petitions with more than 150,000
signatures to
those overseeing the cleanup and urge BP to stop blocking efforts to
rescue sea
turtles from such a horrific death.

"The worst
environmental disaster in U.S. history gets grimmer and
grimmer," said Center Oceans Program Director Miyoko Sakashita.
"Hundreds of
species in the Gulf are being killed or harmed by the toxic oil, but the
plight
of the Kemp's ridley is particularly heartbreaking since it had been
poised to
become an endangered species success story. Now, once again, the species
is
moving toward extinction."

A boat
captain who had been leading efforts to rescue the sea turtles reported
that BP
blocked his crews from entering the areas where the animals were
trapped,
effectively shutting down the rescue operation and condemning the
ancient
creatures to being burned alive.

BP is using
"controlled burns" in an attempt to contain the spill. Boats create a corral of oil by
dragging together fire-resistant booms
and then lighting the enclosed "burn box" on fire. If turtles are not
removed
from the area before the fire is lit, they are burned alive. The same Sargassum seaweed mats that
are
collecting oil also draw sea turtles, which use them for food and
shelter. Unfortunately, that leaves turtles, particularly young ones,
vulnerable to being oiled and burned.

Anyone
responsible for killing the endangered turtles is liable for
criminal penalties that could include prison and civil fines of up to
$25,000
per violation. "As a result, BP perversely has a financial incentive to
allow
the endangered turtles to burn rather than allow them to be rescued from
the
burn boxes before the containment fires are lit," says Becky Bond,
political
director of CREDO Action. "Blocking the rescue of these ancient
creatures is
tragically indicative of the clean-up response as whole."

Background

As of today,

at least 429 sea turtles have been found dead in the Gulf, and many more
have
likely been hurt or killed but not found. The Kemp's ridley had been
driven
toward extinction by egg poaching and fisheries bycatch, particularly in
trawls
and gill nets. While some egg poaching still exists, it has been
significantly
reduced.

In addition
to the Kemp's ridley, four other endangered sea turtles are found in the

Gulf of Mexico: green, loggerhead, hawksbill
and leatherback sea turtles. They rely on areas throughout the Gulf of
Mexico for nesting, reproduction, feeding and
migration.

Of the five species of
sea turtles present in the Gulf, Kemp's ridleys rely most extensively on
this
area. They nest on the beaches, feed in shallow waters and migrate
throughout the Gulf.

Other
species in the Gulf include the extremely threatened Atlantic bluefin
tuna,
which gather in the area to breed this time of year, and sperm whales,
which
inhabit deepwater areas in the northern Gulf. Seabirds, sharks, whales
and other
marine mammals are also at risk from the oil, while fisheries and other
businesses will suffer ill effects for years to come.

Click
here
for a photo of the Kemp's ridley.

###

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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