With the Gulf oil spill threatening wildlife and coastal economies, federal officials are planning to relocate sea turtle hatchlings from the region to the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Petersburg Times reported Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Center for Biological Diversity said it is filing a federal lawsuit against BP and the U.S. Coast Guard for burning sea turtles alive in controlled burns to reduce the amount of oil floating on the water. A BP spokeswoman said vessels are sent to rescue turtles to prevent them from being burned.
The Times reported that biologists will move about 800 nests from Gulf coast states to prevent the hatchlings from dying in oil in the Gulf.
"This is the least of the worst-case scenarios," said Chuck Underwood, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Even if what we're doing isn't a great thing, it's better than doing nothing."
The Center for Biological Diversity says controlled burns that are removing oil are a violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. A letter to the Coast Guard and BP cited news reports suggesting that some sea turtles are being burned in the fires. Mother Jones reported that efforts to save turtles were being thwarted by BP.
"Newly hatched sea turtles are swimming out to sea and finding themselves in a mucky, oily mess," said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director for the Center for Biological Diversity. "News that BP has blocked efforts to rescue trapped sea turtles before they're burned alive in controlled burns is unacceptable."
A BP spokeswoman said she was not familiar with the report that the Center for Biological Diversity was referring to and she said BP was expanding its efforts to recover turtles before controlled burns take place. The Coast Guard referred the Florida Tribune to a Justice Department spokesman who declined to comment because no legal action had been filed.
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