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Dead turtles herald environmental catastrophe in the USA

The unfolding environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragedy and already the wildlife in the region is suffering with Loggerhead turtles, one of the five threatened local species of sea turtle, being washed up dead and bleeding. In one  morning eight sea turtles were found dead in Pass Christian in Mississippi, in addition to nine found the day before, bringing the total number of dead turtle sightings in the wider area to at least 31. Scientists are now studying the corpses to see whether the turtles’ deaths had anything to do with the explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig and the 220,000 gallons of oil that are still being spewed into the Gulf each day. A team of vets would be looking to see if the animals had respiratory problems associated with inhaling oil fumes, or had consumed fish contaminated with oil.

Environmental campaigners, scientists and indeed the local population are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect of the oil spill on birds, particularly as this is now their breeding season and also worried over the fate of up to 5,000 dolphins that live in the Gulf and up to the mouth of the Mississippi river. It is their birthing season when they tend to come into the shallow waters of the Gulf – precisely where the slick is heading. The dolphins are at great danger from the oil should they swim through the slick. It could damage their skin and eyes, cause respiratory problems should they inhale it, and lead to internal problems in the event of eating poisoned fish. In Pass Christian the local people are equally concerned about the fate of their commercial fishing. Booms have been laid across the bays and bayous that dot the coastline in an attempt to block the oil being pushed by winds and current into the inland waterways and marshes which act as the nurseries of shrimp, crabs and crawfish upon which the local fishermen depend. All eyes are also upon two giant man-made oyster reefs that sit about 500 metres out to sea. They are each 10 miles long and among the largest in the US. Latest information suggests that the slick has reached the Chandeleur Islands, a string of barrier islands that have famously rich ecosystems and fish stocks. Along the beach where Carroll found the dead turtle the city has mobilised several tractors to clean debris from the sand and to form a berm of sand designed to act as another line of defence against any incoming oil.

Read more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/03/deepwater-horizon-oil-spill-turtle-deaths-soar and see this article on Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s change of heart on offshort drilling in light of the Gulf of Mexico disaster  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/05/04/2010-05-04_gulf_coast_oil_spill_california_gov_arnold_schwarzenegger_ends_support_for_offsh.html.  Schwarzenegger announced his decision on the plan Monday, saying TV images of the spill made him change his mind about the safety of ocean-based oil platforms. “You turn on the television and see this enormous disaster, you say to yourself, ‘Why would we want to take on that kind of risk?”.

UPDATE

Thom Yorke has said that BP should be held criminally responsible for that oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico last week, which continues to leak over 200,000 gallons of oil into the ocean every day.  Writing on Radiohead’s official website, Yorke said: “Shouldn’t BP be held criminally responsible for the oil slick? Shouldn’t the heads of BP be held to account? This is not just an accident. This is a terrible crime. Record profits? Nice”.