A boat captain working to rescue sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico says he has seen BP ships burning sea turtles and other wildlife alive.
Captain Mike Ellis said in an interview posted on You Tube that the boats are conducting controlled burns to get rid of the oil.
“They drag a boom between two shrimp boats and whatever gets caught between the two boats, they circle it up and catch it on fire. Once the turtles are in there, they can’t get out,” Ellis said.
Ellis said he had to cut short his three-week trip rescuing the turtles because BP quit allowing him access to rescue turtles before the burns.
“They’re pretty much keeping us from doing what we need to do out there,” Ellis said.
Other reports corroborate Captain Ellis’ claims. A report in the Los Angeles Times describes “burn fields” of 500 square miles in which 16 controlled burns will take place in one day.
“When the weather is calm and the sea is placid, ships trailing fireproof booms corral the black oil, the coated seaweed and whatever may be caught in it, and torch it into hundred-foot flames, sending plumes of smoke skyward in ebony mushrooms,” the article says.
Ellis said most of the turtles he has seen are Kemps Ridley turtles, a critically endangered species. Harming or killing one would bring stiff civil and criminal penalties and fines of up to $50,000 against BP.
Evolved from ancestors who walked on land and then went back to the sea many million years ago, sea turtles are reptiles. The cold blooded air breathing reptiles are part of a species that are so ancient in standing that they themselves watched dinosaurs become extinct.
Like nearly all turtles the sea turtle possess scaly skin and have a hard outer shell .
Many land turtles are able to retract their heads inside their shells for protection. Unfortunately, sea turtles are unable to do this and their heads will remain out at all times.
Adapting itself to a watery life, their shells have evolved and are lighter in weight than those of their cousins who live on land. They have flippers which help them to move through the water very rapidly. Sea turtles can swim at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour for a reasonable distance.
They swim to the surface every few minutes to take a breath and then dive again, but can remain underwater for as long as two hours without taking a breath when they sleep. Their bodies use oxygen in a very efficient way so that they need less
oxygen than other animals.
Additionally their muscles and their blood will store large amounts of oxygen which permits them to stay under the water for a lengthy time span. Smaller turtles or infant or juvenile turtles have not yet developed this and must sleep at the surface.
Behind each sea turtles eye is a salt gland that aids them in ridding their bodies of the salt they take in. They will cry great salt tears which rid their bodies of the extra salt they have taken in from the water.
Green sea turtles are given their names from the color of their body fat, which is green due to the algae they ingest.
While adult green sea turtles eat only herbs and vegetation, the juveniles will also eat meat. Jellyfish is a large part of their diet.
Adult sea turtles can weigh in at about 500 pounds.
The life span of sea turtles is still unknown. Some seem to mature and grow very slowly.
Sometimes, they take from 10 to 50 years before they begin to mate.
Sea turtles live in the ocean for most of their adult lives. Females however must enter land to lay the eggs.
Researchers believe they do this in the same place they were born, sometimes traveling as much as a thousand miles to get there.
Mating is usually in the late spring, when the females enter the beach. They do not mate each year, but come ashore as many as five times to make nests and lay eggs when they do mate.
Green Sea Turtles only nest during the night. The female digs a pit and deposits as many as 100 eggs, which are called a clutch.
The eggs feel very much like leather, as she covers them and buries the pit then returns to the sea. She does not guard the nest or return for her young, which take about two months to hatch.
They must then find their way to the ocean and swim for the next day or two. They do not enter land again for another year or more.
Many hatchlings do not reach the ocean. They are eaten by crabs, birds or sharks as they enter.
Only a very few of those which are born survive the trip to the ocean the first time. Green sea turtles are found throughout the world’s oceans and like some other sea turtles are considered endangered species.
As we can see from the BP mishap, man is the predator which poses the greatest threat to their survival.
The sea turtles appear to be very smart. A loggerhead sea turtle nearly swam to the door step of the Florida Keys Turtle Hospital, the only licensed veterinary facility in the world that solely treats sea turtles.
The 73-pound reptile was suffering from a bacterial infection and somehow knew exactly where to go for help — no Yellow Pages needed.
They are also very considerate as demonstrated in the video above.
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