Over 5,400 Change.org members joined our partners at CREDO Action in telling BP and the U.S. Coast Guard to stop burning endangered sea turtles alive in the Gulf of Mexico. After receiving thousands of emails, pressure from the media and threat of a lawsuit from conservation groups, on July 2, BP sat down with the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Animal Legal Defense Fund and agreed to adopt new measures to protect endangered sea turtles caught in the burn zones. Animal welfare groups, CREDO Action and the Change.org community will be watching closely to make sure they follow through.
News has just emerged from the Gulf Coast that BP is burning endangered sea turtles alive.
A boat captain who has been leading efforts to rescue the endangered turtles says BP has blocked his crews from entering the areas where the animals are trapped, effectively shutting down the rescue operation.
BP is using "controlled burns" to contain the oil spill. Shrimp 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 literally burned alive.
The sea turtle most affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is the Kemp's Ridley which is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Parties responsible for killing the endangered turtles are liable for criminal penalties that 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 rescue crews to cull them from the burn boxes before the containment fires are lit.
"They ran us out of there and then they shut us down, they would not let us get back in there," said turtle rescuer Mike Ellis in an interview with conservation biologist Catherine Craig that was posted on YouTube.com.
Tell BP: Stop burning endangered sea turtles alive.