As the BP deepwater drilling disaster stretches into its second month, the wildlife impacts are mounting. The official totals (likely significantly lower than reality) are bad, with over 1,000 dead seabirds, over 400 dead sea turtles, and over 50 dead marine mammals so far. The first dead sperm whale has been found, and Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathem has documented many more marine mammals in jeopardy in his latest video.
As bad as this is, it’s even worse to think that not all the wildlife impacts are from the oil, and more and more reports are coming in demonstrating BP’s contractors doing more harm than good.
On June 13th, charterboat captain Mike Ellis was interviewed and described the inability of his wildlife rescue team (paid by BP) to communicate with BP’s burn team to ensure sea turtle habitat was cleared before it was burnt. In a heartbreaking story, Mike details how his team had been combing the weed line, or sargassum seaweed, to find oiled juvenile kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the most endangered sea turtle species in the Gulf. Despite their success in locating many turtles by searching the oiled sargassum, they weren’t able to stop the burn team from gathering and burning sargassum before they had a chance to scour it for survivors. What’s wrong with BP’s command and control structure if this simple step can’t be taken?
Aaron Viles is GRN’s campaign director.