Sign Up for Our Newsletter


Reporting and commentary from OnEarth editors and correspondents

Could the chemical dispersants be killing hte sea turtles?

It's possible but unlikely that the turtles that have already washed up died from exposure to chemical dispersants. No oil was found in the sea turtles when necropsied (an autopsy performed on non-humans) -- and the dispersants are generally found with oil, for obvious reasons.

I put the question to an environmental toxicologist who said that the chemicals used today are far less toxic than the dispersants in the past. He thought it was unlikely that disperants were causing sea turtle deaths -- so far.

On a related point: I heard from turtle biologist Jeanette Wyneken yesterday about the effects of oil in the water column -- below the surface. Here's what she wrote:

"There is a literature that deals with the effects of crude oil and 'weathered' crude oil on sea turtles. The impacts can be profound, ranging from severe dermatitis and skin sloughing to more significant physiological impairment of gut function, salt gland function, and eye irritation (The salt gland acts like a second kidney and so is quite important). The studies, by Molly Lutcavage and Peter Lutz and colleagues, showed that the turtles did not avoid oil, or its later form, 'tar-like substances' (tar) that form after the volatile parts have evaporated. Tar can suffocate a turtle or effectively glue it's jaws closed and its flippers to the shell."

Wyneken is the author of "The Biology of Sea Turtles" and a professor at Florida Atlantic University.

The deep water injection of dispersants has never been done before.

Here is an article about the toxicity of the chemicals being used.

The pathologist who did necropsies on the turtle was put under a gag order by the Coast Guard, which has an agreement with USAF to use these chemicals. The pathologist cannot even photograph the turtles as he works on them.

We need full disclosure of these studies. The public has paid for the studies. If there is nothing to hide, why hide it? Obama promised us transparency in government. Let's have it.

It's accurate to say that both bottom trawling and massive oil spills are very bad for sea turtles. No need for theories of cover-ups and no need to blame one over the other. The massive number of shrimp that die in bottom trawls is something few shrimp eaters know about. Both shrimpers and oil execs fight environmental regulations. The impacts of oil on sea turtles, from hatchling to adult, are known too.

Make your seafood and energy choices wisely, with the ocean in mind. Support fishermen who aren't using destructive techniques and support clean energy.

Maybe all we need is to stop eating shrimp, they are good, but at what cost? I love the turtles more than eating shrimp!

This continues to baffle me. My father is a commercial fisherman, a shrimper in fact. He owns his own boat out of Tarpon Springs, FL. The nets used have had what is called turtle excluders for years, I was about 3 or 4 when these came into affect. They are required to use these, it's a cage inside the net that if hit by something heavy lifts open and half of the catch is lost in order to save turtles (or anything big enough to cause the door to open). The government actually reimburses fisherman for the lost wages of these devices in order to protect wildlife. There are also places through out the ocean that fisherman are not allowed to even go through not even fish but physically be in because of turtle breeding grounds. Oil spills are terrible I will agree, but there are several safety features put onto commercial fishing boats to allow the safety of these animals. Sharks, dolphins, they are all released because of this they never even make it aboard the boat. Not to mention the fines for even having these endangered species on the deck is amazing, and commercial fisherman have to have licenses to bring back anything that is on the boat. My dad catching shrimp means that's all he can bring back to land, so much as a lobster he doesn't have a permit for can cause him fines, and possible loss of license. Anything on the deck that is not what he's licensed for goes back into the ocean. Turtles would be included if they made it that far, so even if they didn't have the safety features, turtles air breathing and all, would easily be put back into the water. Please stop bashing commercial fisherman. It is a regulated business, that has laws and permits and guidelines just like any other business. Recreational fisherman have done far more damage to marine life over the years, but that's fun so no one speaks out. Much more information on the safety features for all fishing businesses needs to be released. Many people enjoy shrimp and other seafood, personally I prefer mine caught locally that doesn't have mercury in it from another country.

While we are worry that this oil spill incident might affect the living organisms on water lets us be open-minded that there are still lots of factors why some of the organisms on that water die. Just recently, there were dolphins that were washed up on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Did the BP oil leak destroy dolphins and turtles? When 7 dolphins and more than 100 sea turtles bodies washed up on shore, everyone was fast to believe it was from the offshore drilling that caused a massive oil leak a couple weeks ago. Fortunately for Halliburton and Transocean this was not the case. The cause of these animals' deaths has not been released, but a statement the oil leak had nothing related to their death has been. This doesn't mean that BP is not accountable for the deaths or contamination of many ocean animals; just they weren't responsible for this unique event.

I would like to propose not to hold off until you earn big sum of cash to order all you need! You can just get the personal loans or commercial loan and feel comfortable