Photos via Boston
Just about everyone has been cautiously celebrating the news that the underwater geyser of oil at the Deepwater Horizon source has finally been capped (for now). So I hate to interrupt any momentary lapses of relief with ill news like this: The toll on wildlife and ecosystems in the Gulf continues to be devastating. Just yesterday, I reported that 3,000 birds had been officially recorded as being killed or covered in oil. Today, I'll look at another grim statistic: The BP Gulf spill has claimed the lives of at least 467 endangered sea turtles -- and the survival of many others still hangs in the balance. And those numbers merely make up the official report (pdf) of those deaths recorded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. There could be many more deaths that remain unconfirmed, or unreported. The dead turtle I found on a small island off the coast of Mississippi had, for instance, evidently been ignored by the USFW there.
The toll also likey doesn't take into account the turtles that BP burned alive.
Furthermore, the report also states that an additional 200+ turtles have been found covered in oil, and their survival is still far from certain -- many of those will likely perish, having likely ingested the oil after coming up for air only to find an ocean surface covered in the stuff.
It also needs to be noted that more casualties are being reported every day -- there's an archive of each of the daily "Consolidated Fish and Wildlife Collection Reports" at the Deepwater Horizon Response website. And scanning the reports, you'll find that each new day brings newly confirmed dead sea turtles. Just yesterday, there were only 463 confirmed dead. Today, there were four more.
Now, even though a few hundred dead sea turtles may not see like a big deal to some (I'm looking at you, pro-drilling crowd), each of these turtles killed belongs to an endangered species -- some of them critical. A loss of hundreds -- and potentially thousands, since it will be a while yet before the true toll is known -- of these creatures is indeed a serious blow to their populations.
Photo by Brian Merchant
More on the Gulf Oil Spill
Oil Spill Causes Thousands of Turtle Eggs Not to Hatch...
WTF? Is BP Burning Endangered Sea Turtles Alive? (Videos) : TreeHugger