July 28, 2010

Sea Turtle Death Toll Rising Since BP Oil Spill

A battle is underway in the Gulf of Mexico to save endangered sea turtles from the BP oil disaster.

Jane Lubchenco, head of the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told AFP news that about 180 turtles had been rescued so far and 170 were still in rehabilitation.

"NOAA sea turtle experts are vital members of the incident command's wildlife branch which has deployed five turtle rescue boats whose crews search for oiled turtles," she said.

Lubchenco's figures only relate to the number of turtles that were "visibly oiled" and found alive.  About 500 turtles have been found dead since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April.

Most of the turtle's deaths are still undetermined, but experts say the number is far higher than average.

About 700 sea turtle nests, containing about 70,000 eggs, are in the process of being moved from the Gulf to Florida's Atlantic coast.

Activists are furious the government is releasing Kemp's Ridley sea turtle hatchlings into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit group, filed a lawsuit on Monday against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for not protecting the region's endangered turtles and whales from possible oil spills.


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